From the beginning, VNR's mission and activities have been framed by the principles of strategic planning, research and evaluation. Valley Nonprofit Resources was shaped by a 2005 Feasibility Study, and its operations by Business Plans that lay out administrative, program and financial activities. VNR also was designed to include an evaluation component, both to estimate the program's impact and to improve it over time.
The evaluation component builds on the Human Interaction Research Institute's long-standing work in program evaluation (going back to national studies conducted in the 1960s) and more recent projects focused on evaluation of nonprofit capacity building (including a 2010 study for Kellogg Foundation of foundation-sponsored capacity building evaluation methods). Because personnel and financial resources for evaluation are very modest, VNR's activities are low-cost, and involve gathering qualitative and limited quantitative data, both of which can be useful in meeting evaluation objectives.
VNR's evaluation component has six main activities:
- post-event surveys of participants' overall reactions to VNR workshops and other learning events
- pre- and post-tests of participants' learning and skill development, targeted to VNR's two MultiFamily Group capacity building projects with Valley mental health agencies (both of which included a series of educational workshops)
- critical incident reports on specific outcomes from VNR workshops and technical assistance consultations
- informal data gathered through post-event interaction with participants in VNR learning events
- rosters summarizing basic operations for VNR's workshops and community events, information & referral activities and technical assistance consultations
- website statistics gathered automatically by Google Analytics and through a pop-up website user satisfaction survey
To provide context for VNR's evaluation activities, consult VNR's Feasibility Study(.pdf) and the VNR Business Plans 2007-2009 (.pdf), 2010-2011 (.pdf), 2012-2013 (.pdf), 2014-2016 (.pdf) and 2016-2018 (.pdf). Evaluation findings in the categories described above are presented in evaluation reports for 2007-2009 (.pdf), 2010-2011 (.pdf), 2012-2013 (.pdf), 2014-2015 (.pdf), and a separate report evaluating VNR's Strategic Planning (.pdf) work. Evaluation activities for the Raising the Bar and Latino Multifamily Group projects are reported separately - see their respective pages in Resources.
Consultation on VNR's evaluation activities was provided by Special Service to Groups, as part of a Los Angeles County Management Support Organization Evaluation Initiative, supported by the California Community Foundation. VNR's evaluation activities are entirely self-funded out of general operating support.