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Do we use our resources optimally to achieve our aims? How would we know?

by Marion Norton on 12th August 2013

Home -> Articles -> 2013 -> August -> Do we use our resources optimally to achieve our aims? How would we know?

Wouldn’t you think that when money is tight, we would make extra sure that we are spending it on things that work? Of course, it is understandable we don’t want to reduce services – but is a lack of evaluation short-sighted? Is trusting our intuition enough? This is one of the conundrums being explored at the Australasian Evaluation Society 2013 evaluation conference in Brisbane 4-6 September.

The conference is bringing together over a hundred presenters with a vast array of experience on getting the best out of evaluations. You don’t have to be an evaluator to attend. The program has plenty to offer for practitioners, managers and directors including a session particularly for not-for-profits: Keeping not-for-profits sustainable: improving outcomes and impact through effective evaluation. You can find out how to:

  • build evaluation capacity in organisations
  • keep time and costs low with online interactive tools to guide evaluation
  • get the voices of vulnerable client groups
  • measure social impact and the social return on investment
  • measure intangibles – like the value of culture.

See the program at:

This conference is only in Brisbane every 8 years, so here is a chance to make the most of it. Costs have been kept low and there are special discounts for multiple registrations and students. Or if a three-day conference is too much for you, check out the half and full day pre-conference workshops 1-3 September.

Do you need more convincing about the relevance and importance of evaluation to the future of child protection and related services? Read this sample abstract by Katie Van Geelen and Victoria Visser

The Science of Knowing Pty Ltd

Abstract by Katie Van Geelen and Victoria Visser

The not-for-profit sector has the potential for huge growth as far as evaluation goes. Conducting effective, ongoing evaluation in the not-for-profit area poses many challenges, especially around demonstrating the perceived value of and return on investment to be gained from the evaluation process. There is often a lack of recognition of the benefits not-for-profits can gain from evaluation, particularly in the currently tight economic climate. However, not-for-profits can achieve long-term financial security through the effective identification of low and high performance areas, which subsequently allows organisations to better meet the goals of clients, funders and themselves.

Currently amongst many not-for-profits there exists a culture where evaluation is done simply to satisfy contractual requirements. By demonstrating the tangible benefits of monitoring quality, performance and efficiency, these areas can also be improved, thereby making organisations financially sustainable, as well as ensuring continued effectiveness and competitiveness within the industry.

Among not-for-profits, primary concerns include ensuring continued financial capacity for achieving the objectives of the organisation and being able to give clear evidence of their having done so. The ultimate fate of a not-for-profit is subject to its ability to satisfy the expectations of its Board of Directors regarding these two concerns. Accordingly, evaluations must include a top level focus and address the concerns of the board as to whether the organisation is financially sustainable and functioning efficiently. However, evaluations should simultaneously promote the importance of performance and other indicators of effectiveness and quality, in increasing the sustainability and functionality of an organisation.

In order to encourage evaluation in the not-for-profit sector, the frameworks and systems used must be streamlined, to ensure that the process is not a burden on operations, and it must use tangible indicators, which provide valuable direction and guidance for the continued advancement of the organisation itself.

For any further information please contact Marion Norton on

Marion Norton