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Frequently Asked Questions

This page addresses the questions most commonly asked by innonet.org visitors and users of the Point K Learning Center. If you don’t find the answers you need here, please contact us.

FAQ Sections:
Getting Started
About Innovation Network
Copyright and Privacy Policies
Point K Learning Center:
    General Information
    Registration Questions
    Donation FAQ
    Bugs and Technical Support
    Resources
    Organizational Assessment Tool
    Logic Model Builder
    Evaluation Plan Builder
    Weren't some other tools mentioned on Point K?

Questions Index:

Getting Started
I'm a new visitor to your website. What is here for me?

About Innovation Network
What is Innovation Network?
What do you do?
What kinds of services does Innovation Network provide?
What does your name mean?
What makes you different from other evaluation firms?
What are your prices?
How can you be a nonprofit consulting firm?
Do you evaluate your own work?
Who are your clients?
Do you have a schedule of trainings and workshops?
I'm starting a new nonprofit. Can you help me?
Can you help me find funding?
Do you offer grants or scholarships?
I'm working with your online tools, but I'd like some evaluation advice as I go along. Is that a service you provide?

Copyright and Privacy Policies
May I quote from your online materials, or use your workbooks or other resources in a training?
If I register with your website, will I get spam?
May I post a link to innonet.org on my website?

Point K: General Information
What is Point K?
Is it really free?
Where does the name "Point K" come from?
Is there a user manual for Point K?
Is Point K accessible to people with disabilities?
Who do I contact if I need help?

Point K: Registration Questions
Will I get spam if I register?
If I’m already registered as an individual, why do I need to register my organization?
I just tried to log in, but my username/password wasn't recognized. What's going on?

Point K: Donation FAQ
Why should I donate?
How much should I give?
Is my donation secure?
Can I donate to a specific tool or project?
What is Network for Good?

Point K: Bugs & Technical Support
I think I've found a bug in your system (blank screens, missing information, navigation problems, etc.) What should I do?
I emailed you, but I haven't heard back. Why not?

Point K: Resources
How do I suggest a resource?
Will you link to my website from the Resources section?
May I link to your website?

Point K: Organizational Assessment Tool ("OAT")
What is the Organizational Assessment Tool?
Who should take the Organizational Assessment Tool?
What will I get out of the Organizational Assessment Tool?
Can more than one person from the same organization take the OAT?
Can I get an aggregated OAT report across several organizations—for example, to see the challenges that affect other organizations like mine, or to help a group of grantees with strategic planning?

Point K: Logic Model Builder
What is a logic model?
How do I use the Logic Model Builder?
How do I use the Presentation View?
Can I use the Logic Model Builder for strategic planning?
Who should develop a logic model—program staff? Executive director? Board members?
How long does it take to develop a logic model?
Is there a "right" order to creating a logic model?

Why don't my Intermediate and Longer-Term Outcomes connect to Activities?

Point K: Evaluation Plan Builder
Why should I make an evaluation plan?
How do I use the Evaluation Plan Builder?
Is there a Presentation View for the Evaluation Plan?
Do I need an Evaluation Plan if I am already collecting and reporting evaluation information about my program?
Why do I need both implementation and outcome evaluation?
Do I need to do implementation planning first, before addressing outcomes?
Who needs to be involved in developing the Evaluation Plan?
How long does it take to develop an Evaluation Plan?

Weren't some other tools mentioned on Point K?

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Getting Started

• I'm a new visitor to your website. What is here for me?
The Getting Started page has tips on making the most of innonet.org. This website has three main purposes:
• To share information about Innovation Network--our services, our philosophy, and our approach;
• To make tools for planning and evaluation available to nonprofits and funders; and
• To share planning and evaluation resources and publications.

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About Innovation Network

• What is Innovation Network?
We are a nonprofit organization founded in 1992.  We share planning and evaluation tools and know-how to help organizations in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector be more effective.  Read more about Innovation Network.

What do you do?
We provide consulting, training, research, and online tools for nonprofits and funders to help them use evaluation for decision-making, communication, and impact.

What kinds of services does Innovation Network provide?
We provide planning and evaluation consulting services, ranging from brief technical assistance engagements to complex, multi-site evaluations. We take a capacity-building approach to evaluation—that is, we help our clients build their ability to do evaluation for themselves, if they want. Read more about Innovation Network services.

What does your name mean?
It stems from our core beliefs. We strive to facilitate networks for sharing innovation—that is, we want to make it easier for nonprofits to share best practices and replicate successful program designs.  Our online tools and evaluation practice are inspired by the "innovation network" concept: Knowledge about program improvement and best practices is best acquired through experience, captured through evaluation, and shared through networks.

What makes you different from other evaluation firms?
Five major qualities distinguish us in the evaluation field:

  • We take a strongly collaborative, participatory approach to evaluation.
  • Our evaluation training curricula and consulting practice focus on practical results—evaluation findings that can be used immediately for program improvement, accountability, communication, and fundraising. We don't want our findings to sit on a shelf; we want to see them put into action.
  • We make evaluation approachable: We break down evaluation concepts in accessible terms, and teach our clients how to use evaluation themselves so they can continue to evaluate their own work.
  • We are a nonprofit organization. We share our clients' commitment to social change, and we understand the challenges faced by nonprofits today—because we face them ourselves.
  • Free online tools: The core service of innonet.org is the Point K Learning Center. Point K features free planning and evaluation tools and resources, available to anyone with an Internet connection. We know that most nonprofits don't have the funds to hire an evaluation consulting firm, and we can only reach a few dozen organizations a year with in-person consulting. Our online tools are used by thousands of nonprofits worldwide, across budgetary and geographic boundaries.

What are your prices?
Our online tools and resources are available free of charge.  For consulting engagements, our pricing is competetive with other Washington, D.C. consulting firms. We structure prices for each project on a per-day or per-participant basis. Projects range from 90-minute web-based trainings to multi-year evaluation engagements. Our average billing rate is $1,300 (U.S.) per day. Contracts are generally paid by a foundation or other funder rather than directly by a nonprofit, unless the nonprofit is large and has an evaluation budget of its own.

How can you be a nonprofit, but charge money for consulting?
We are mission-focused, not profit-driven.  Proceeds from our consulting work are reinvested in the organization to support the Point K Learning Center, our independent research, and public education programs. (On the spectrum of nonprofit models, we're closer to a university than a food bank.)

Do you evaluate your own work?
Yes. We collect feedback about all of our services—training, consulting, and online—and use that feedback to continuously improve our work, report to our funders, and communicate with our board and other stakeholders.

Who are your clients?
Our clients come from throughout the nonprofit and philanthropic sector.  We work with nonprofit organizations directly, and with grantmakers and their grantees.  Though our in-person clients are mostly in the United States, we have done some in-person projects in Canada and Ireland. We have also provided online training to clients in Canada. Approximately 15% of our web users are from outside the U.S.  Click here for a list of our clients.

What specific issue-area expertise do you have?
Our evaluation approaches and methodologies are flexible and can be applied to many types of organizations in a variety of programmatic areas. In the past few years, we have begun to specialize in evaluations of advocacy initiatives, health promotion initiatives, and programs and initiatives related to women, youth, and families.

Do you have a schedule of trainings and workshops?
Our trainings and workshops are not yet offered to the general public, so we don’t have a public schedule.  Most of our workshops are offered to groups of grantees who are being supported by a funder.  Once we enter into a consulting agreement, we work out a convenient schedule for workshop participants.  Please contact us if you are interested in training.

• I'm starting a new nonprofit. Can you help me?
Congratulations on starting a new organization! Though we don't offer consulting services in this area, the Resources section of the Point K Learning Center is a great place to start. 
— Registered users: Check out the capacity building section under Resources.
— New users: you'll need to register to use the Resources; registration is free. Click here to register for Point K.
Also, our Logic Model Builder is an excellent way for you to do small-scale planning as you build your new nonprofit. It connects what you have and what you do to the change you are trying to create—and helps you communicate your mission to potential funders and other stakeholders. To use the Logic Model Builder, you'll need to be registered and be part of an "organization" inside Point K, but that organization doesn't need to be a legal entity (so it's okay if you have not yet incorporated—you can still get started). Read the PDF tutorial on "How and Why to Add or Join an Organization"

A very practical and complete resource for getting started as a nonprofit is in Carter McNamara's online Free Management Library. This web resource includes all kinds of sound, step-by-step advice on how to get up and running.

• Can you help me find funding?
We are not fundraising specialists, but we do offer some fundraising tips in the Resources section of the Point K Learning Center.

• Do you offer grants or scholarships?
Innovation Network is not a grantmaking organization, and we don't have a formal scholarship program. We generally do our consulting and training work either with nonprofit organizations that have evaluation budgets, or through grantmaking organizations that hire us to work with a group of their grantees.  But we know that we can't reach many organizations directly in this manner, so we offer many online evaluation tools and resources free of charge to any organization, classroom, or interested individual with an Internet connection. Users of our website who are interested in planning and evaluation assistance beyond what's offered on our site should contact us directly to talk about other ways we may be able to assist in a planning or evaluation effort.

• I'm working with your online tools, but I'd like some evaluation advice as I go along. Is that a service you provide?
In the summer of 2010, we introduced a new service--Logic Model and Evaluation Plan reviews. Read more about our plan review service here. If you need technical help with the tools on Point K, please check the Bugs and Technical Support section of this FAQ.

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Copyright and Privacy Policies

• May I quote from your online materials, or use your workbooks or other resources in a training?
If you are using our materials, we would love to hear about it—please contact us and let us know how you are sharing our work. Most of our work is under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. This means that if you wish to use our work for commercial purposes—that is, if you are making money from our work—you must contact us for permission. However, as long as you are not charging for our materials (beyond reasonable fees for printing and photocopying), and you give us attribution (to "Innovation Network, Inc.", preferably with a link back to this website), please feel free to quote from or share our materials without specific permission.  If you find yourself using our materials often, or if you find they make your work easier, please consider making a donation.

• If I register with your website, will I get spam?
Not from us, and spammers won't get your email address from us. We are committed to protecting your email address, and we will only send email that you specifically sign up for. Read our complete privacy and anti-spam policies.

• May I post a link to innonet.org on my website?
Certainly!

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Point K: General Information

•  What is Point K?
The Point K Learning Center at www.innonet.org is a suite of tools and resources for nonprofit program planning and evaluation. 

•  Is it really free?
It's free for you. It isn't free for us. We are currently able to offer the tools and resources at Point K at no cost to you, thanks to the generosity and shared committment of our funding partners. Funding environments are not predictable, and we gladly accept donations to help support Point K. But we will do everything we can to ensure that the tools which are currently available for free will remain free.

•  Where does the name "Point K" come from?
The Point K Learning Center is about knowledge, and the journeys knowledge can take you on. If Point A is the beginning of your journey, then Point K is where you get the knowledge you need to envision your destination, map out your course, and plan what it's going to take to reach your goals.
Point K is also a destination for sharing your knowledge. If we can benefit from each other's collective knowledge, then we can stop reinventing the wheel and devote our energies to new problems—or new solutions to old problems.
Come back to Point K for evaluation tools—see how far you've come, make a course correction, and pick up fresh inspiration for the next challenge.

•  Is there a user manual for Point K?
No, not in terms of a single document.  Each tool in Point K has a brief instructions page and has usability help (marked with a ? icon) and evaluation help (marked with Innovation Network's own icon—the letter "i" as it appears in our logo) throughout.  We also have targeted tutorial documentation for specific Point K activities. Please let us know if you think a more comprehensive manual would be helpful.

• Is Point K accessible to people with disabilities?
We are working on that. We are keenly aware that our website and tools are poorly accessible to people with visual impairments and other disabilities, and we are addressing the situation as resources allow.   Please let us know if additional accessibility would be helpful to you—we rely on user feedback to set website development priorities (and explain to our funders why we think this is a priority).

• Who do I contact if I need help using Point K?
Contact Isaac Morrison, Associate, preferably by email at info@innonet.org. Isaac is also available by telephone, 202-728-0727 x 108. Isaac is generally in the office Monday through Friday from 8:30am - 4:00pm U.S. Eastern Time, and strives to answer all user email within two business days. However, there may be times when you don’t hear back from us right away. If that happens, please try contacting us again. (There's no penalty for being a squeaky wheel—far better to send a second email than to have your question go unanswered!)

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Point K: Registration Questions

• Will I get spam if I register?
Not from us. We will only send email that you specifically sign up for. And we protect your email address from spambots: Your email address is only visible to other logged-in members of your Point K organization. Read our complete privacy and anti-spam policies.

• I'm already registered as an individual; why do I need to register my organization?
Point K was built for organizations, to encourage collaboration while keeping work secure and personal information private. Your individual registration lets you use Point K's resources, but to use the tools (the Organizational Assessment Tool, the Logic Model Builder, the Evaluation Plan Builder) you'll need to add or join an organization. Read a PDF about the Point K Organization structure.

I just tried to log in, but my username/password wasn't recognized. What's going on?
If this is your first visit to innonet.org, you'll need to register before you can log in.
If you already registered, there are four common issues:
(a) Are you using the correct login? Your Point K user login is not your email address. (For example, Jane's email address is janedoe@innonet.org, but her Point K user login is jdoe; your login may also include your middle initial and/or a number.) Please check that you are using your Point K user login (it was emailed to you after you registered). Forgot your user login? Contact us.
(b) Spamblocker: Your spamblocker might have eaten your confirmation email. If you did not receive a confirmation email after registering, or if you have clicked "Forgot your password" and haven't received a reply, please check your suspect spam or bulk email folder to see if it's there. If not, please let us know that you suspect a spamblocker problem.
(c) Forgot your password? Click here.

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Point K: Donation FAQ

Why should I donate?
Nearly 20,000 nonprofit staff, management consultants, foundation officers, government personnel, and students use Point K’s tools and resources, at no cost to them. But providing this service is not free to Innovation Network: Point K costs us for web hosting, tool development and maintenance, and a percentage of staff salaries for technical support, web administration, content updates, and project management. Relying solely on grant dollars makes Point K vulnerable to the uncertainties of the nonprofit funding climate. More donations could give us the freedom to continue offering Point K for free.

How much should I give?
How much is Point K worth to you? What do you think the tools and resources at Point K are worth to the nonprofit and philanthropic sector? What can you spare? We are grateful for donations of any size, but are unable to process donations under US$10. We would also be happy to discuss major underwriting support (donations of US$5,000 or more)—contact us if you are interested in underwriting Point K.

Is my donation secure?
Yes. Innovation Network uses Network for Good’s donation system, which employs the latest Secure Socket Layer (SSL) methods to ensure no one has access to your credit card number or other personal information.

Can I donate to a specific tool or project?
Please tell us what aspects of Point K are most important to you. We take your feedback into account as we set update and development priorities, but we can’t promise that your funds will be used for one specific item. All donations will be used for Point K and innonet.org maintenance, content updates, administration, and development of new tools and features, but we don’t have the administrative capability right now to earmark donations for a specific purpose.

What is Network for Good?
Network for Good is a website where individuals can donate, volunteer and get involved with the issues they care about. Founded in 2001 by the Time Warner Foundation and AOL, Inc.; the Cisco Foundation and Cisco Systems, Inc.; and Yahoo! Inc., Network for Good is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.  Visit Network for Good at www.networkforgood.org.

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Point K: Bugs & Technical Support


• I think I've found a bug in your system (blank screens, missing information, navigation problems, etc.) What should I do?

First, check this list:
• Safari incompatibility: While most Point K tools work with Safari, results can be unpredictable. The Organizational Assessment Tool does not work with Safari, and we have had occasional reports of other problems for Safari users. We are working on this. In the meantime, if you run into problems using Safari, let us know, and please try using another browser (Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Netscape).
• Portal problems: We have had reports of users of Internet portals (like AOL and Blackboard) having trouble accessing Point K. If you are using a portal and you run into problems, please let us know, and then try using a direct browser (like Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Netscape).
Broken links, missing content: Please let us know if you find a broken link or a blank screen or receive a "content missing" or "cannot be located" type of error message.
• Spamblocker issue: Spamblockers eat a lot of Point K system email (like password reminders and administrative confirmations). This isn't somethine we can control; it depends on your email provider and your personal anti-spam setup.  If you don't receive a password reminder or another email that you are expecting, please check your suspect spam or bulk mail folder and add info@innonet.org to your address book or list of allowed senders. If you suspect your email provider is blocking Point K email, please let us know.

If your bug does not appear on the list above, please send us an email describing your bug.   If possible, please answer the following questions in your bug report:

-What were you doing when the bug occurred?
-What URL were you at?
-What did you expect to happen?
-What actually happened?
-What type of computer are you using (PC, Mac, other—please specify)?
-What operating system and version are you using (e.g., Windows 2000, Mac OS 10.3.1)?
-What browser and version are you using (e.g., Internet Explorer 6.0.2800, Firefox 1.5)?
-Are you connected to the Internet directly, or over a network?
-What type of connection are you using (e.g. 28K dial-up, DSL, cable modem)
-Are you trying to access Point K through a portal like AOL or Blackboard?
-Are you trying to access Point K through a firewall (if so, what kind of firewall)?
-What is your monitor resolution set at?
-Are you using an accessibility reader?

It's okay if you don't know all the answers to the above, but the more information you can give us, the better.  We may need to contact you for additional diagnostic information.


• I emailed you, but I haven't heard back - why not?
Two possibilities:
(a) Spamblocker: If you requested an automatic system email (such as the "Forgot your password" link), it's possible that the reply was blocked as spam.
— First thing to check: Look in your  "suspect spam" or "bulk email" folder for mail from info@innonet.org, and add info@innonet.org to your safe senders list.
— Second thing to check: We have had some problems with spamblockers at the Internet Service Provider level, particularly at .edu and .gov domains. Please let us know if you are not receiving automatic system emails (for example, if you have clicked "Forgot your password" five times and have not received your password).
(b) Staffing: Your Point K tech support is provided by a sole Innovation Network staff member, who also has many other responsibilities.  (We wish we could provide dedicated 24-7 tech support, but we can't. That's part of the package with a free service.)  We are generally in the office Monday through Friday from 8:30am - 6:00pm U.S. Eastern Time. We strive to answer all user email within two business days, but that isn't always possible. If you don't hear back from us within two days, please try contacting us again. (There's no penalty for being a squeaky wheel—far better to send a second email than to have your question go unanswered!)

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Point K: Resources

• How do I suggest a resource?
As a matter of policy, we do not accept link suggestions from people who are not registered users of our website. Use the "Submit Resource" button in Point K to send us your link. We will review the resource for appropriateness before posting it.

• May I link to your website?
Certainly!

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Point K: Organizational Assessment Tool

• What is the Organizational Assessment Tool ("OAT")?
The Organizational Assessment Tool (also called the OAT) begins with a survey which should take you approximately 20 minutes to complete, and produces a report of organizational development strengths and challenges.  It addresses seven main components of organizational development: Organizational planning, organizational structure, leadership, fundraising, finance and accountability, communications, and evaluation.

• Who should complete the OAT survey?
Generally, a senior program staff person or executive director/CEO is the appropriate person to complete the OAT.  We do recommend that you work collaboratively with your board and staff to get answers that most accurately reflect your organization's current status. The OAT was not designed to be answered by more than one person at a time (see below).

• What will I get out of the Organizational Assessment Tool?
Immediately upon completion of the survey, you will receive a report that includes suggested next steps and other feedback for your organization to consider. These recommendations are based on Innovation Network's many years of experience in organizational development and best practices for nonprofits. The report can be used as a framework for your organization to develop an action-oriented work plan or checklist for enhancing its organizational effectiveness. It can also be an effective communications tool for discussing organizational challenges with your staff, board, and other stakeholders.

• Can more than one person from the same organization take the OAT?
Yes and no. The OAT is a single-user survey, so if you want to get a variety of perspectives (for example, from a board member, a program staffer, a technical staff person, and your executive director), each person will have to complete their own copy of the OAT, which you can then compare.  The tool does not "average out" answers. If you would be interested in having the OAT do aggregated reporting like this, please let us know—we rely on your feedback to set development priorities for our online tools.

• Can I get an aggregated OAT report across several organizations—for example, to see the challenges that affect other organizations like mine, or to help a group of grantees with strategic planning?
Not automatically, no. If you are interested in hiring Innovation Network to undertake an aggregated report analysis for you, please contact us.  We have also heard from some users who would like the OAT to aggregate reports automatically. If you would be interested in automated report aggregation, please let us know—we rely on your feedback to set development priorities for our online tools.

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Point K: Logic Model Builder

• What is a logic model?
A visual representation of how your program works—a "picture" of your program. A Logic Model includes what you put into your program (resources), what you do (activities), and what you plan to achieve (outputs and outcomes). A logic model is a useful tool for program planning and management, accountability and evaluation, and communication and consensus-building.  Find our more in our Logic Model Workbook.

• How do I use the Logic Model Builder?
Each tool in the logic model has an instructions page; click here for the Logic Model Builder's instructions page.  Throughout the Logic Model Builder you will see help icons. The ? icons link to usability help; the InnoNet "i" icon links to evaluation help. You may also find it helpful to use our Logic Model Workbook.

• How do I use the Presentation View?
The Presentation Veiw It is intended as a high-level, at-a-glance, one-page view of your program. It's a snapshot for someone who is not familiar with your work.  Because the Presentation View is only one page, it does not have room for most complete program logic models.  Read the specifications for what will fit in the Presentation View. If your logic model does not fit into the Presentation View but you would like to use the one-page graphic, we suggest that you create copy of your logic model and cut it down to the basics to fit it on page.

• Can I use the Logic Model Builder for strategic planning?
Up to a point, yes. If your organization is devoted to a single program, then a logic model can be a valuable strategic planning tool. Also, if your organization needs help looking at its infrastructure or organizational capacity, a logic model can help you examine your non-program activities such as fundraising, governance, and professional development. Just like program activities, these infrastructure activities are supported by resources, and produce outputs and outcomes. A logic model is a helpful organizing tool that identifies what it takes to establish an organization, realistically conveying the significance and time-consuming nature of capacity-building work.

• Who should develop a logic model—program staff? Executive director? Board members?
A logic model is best developed collaboratively. Involve as many people as possible—all levels of staff, your board, partner agencies, the people you serve. Invite your stakeholders to review and comment on your logic model. The more viewpoints you work with, the more complete—and useful—your logic model will be.

• How long does it take to develop a logic model?
That's hard to say. It depends on how complex your program is, how much detail you are looking for, and how many people are involved. The Logic Model Builder is set up to enable you to complete a basic logic model in approximately two to four hours. However, we strongly recommend that you take more time than that, if you can spare it, so you can involve other people and incorporate their feedback. And in some sense, a logic model is never complete: it is a living document that should change to reflect current reality.

• Is there a "right" order to creating a logic model?
The connections between the pieces are more important than the order you complete them in. Make sure your activities are directly linked to outputs and connected to outcomes; check that outcomes and outputs are supported by realistic activities and resources.  If you are comfortable with big picture thinking, you might want to start by identifying the outcomes you are trying to achieve before you delve into the details. If you are more comfortable working with details, it might help you to start with resources and activities, and then move onto defining outcomes. Start where you feel most comfortable.

Why don't my Intermediate and Longer-Term Outcomes connect to Activities?

Intermediate and Longer-Term outcomes get listed in their own columns, not connected directly to Activities.  This may seem like a technical error, but it's actually an evaluation methodology decision.

Shorter-term Outcomes usually result directly from program activities. They are the outcomes you expect to happen, and that can be attributed directly to your work. For example, a program that teaches seniors about food safety program expects that its workshops will lead to an increase in knowledge of food contamination risks and safe food handling procedures among participating seniors. This is a shorter-term outcome that would connect directly to an activity group called “Workshops”.

Intermediate and Longer-Term Outcomes, in contrast, do not attach directly to Activities.
•    Once you get past the short term, outcomes often result from more than one program activity, so making a one-to-one connection is too simplistic. 
•    The further in time you get from your program activities, the less attribution you can claim.  A longer-term outcome is hardly ever the direct result of your program activities alone.  Other events (including earlier outcomes), people, and circumstances all have to be in alignment for a longer-term outcome to come about.  For example, you can teach me about food safety, but it’s up to me to apply the knowledge and change my behavior. While your program activities certainly contribute to intermediate and longer-term outcomes, the link to a particular program activity is much more tenuous.


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Point K: Evaluation Plan Builder

• Why should I make an evaluation plan?
Because every program can improve. Evaluating your program will give you information to help you work more effectively and have a greater impact in the communities you serve.  Evaluation results are valuable communication tools—they help you tell your program's story, and show your accountability to your community and funders.  And you can share what you learn with the field, so that other nonprofits can benefit from your experience.

How do I use the Evaluation Plan Builder?
Each Point K tool has its own instructions page.  Click here for the Evaluation Plan Builder instructions page.  In addition, throughout the Evaluation Plan Builder you will see help icons. The ? icons link to usability help; the InnoNet "i" icon links to evaluation help. You may also find it helpful to use our Evaluation Plan Workbook.

• Is there a Presentation View for the evaluation plan?
Not yet. Let us know if you would find a Presentation View of the Evaluation Plan useful. We rely on your feedback to set development priorities for our online tools.

• Do I need an Evaluation Plan if I am already collecting and reporting evaluation information about my program?
Yes!  Here's why:  You are probably already collecting information that you could use for evaluation—intake records, case records, program correspondence, even your mailing list.  But without a plan, you probably aren't collecting data systematically—and that's the key to useful evaluation results.  An evaluation plan will help you see whether there are gaps in your data collection.  For example, many nonprofits collect information about their outputs (the number of people served, the number of hours of service provided, the number of trainings held, etc.) but not about outcomes (the changes that occur as a result of the program).  In other cases, nonprofits collect specific information required by their funders, but they don't harvest information that their own staff and board can use for program improvement.  An evaluation plan will help you make the most of your time and resources.

• Why do I need both implementation and outcome evaluation?
Implementation evaluation tells you what you did—whether you carried out program activities as planned, and if not, why not.   Outcomes evaluation tells you what difference you made—it shows the progress you have made toward your long-term goals.   An effective evaluation effort should tell you about both. 

Do I need to do implementation planning first, before addressing outcomes?
There's no "wrong" order, so please start wherever you feel more comfortable. We do recommend that you complete a logic model for your program before starting an evaluation plan, but it's not required.

• Who needs to be involved in developing the Evaluation Plan?
Collaboration is best.  Multiple perspectives will make your plan stronger.  The people who run the program will know what data are feasible to collect, and will have a good sense of what an evaluation should measure—what success should look like for that program.  Fundraising and grantwriting staff can tell you what kinds of information funders and donors want out of an evaluation.  Your technical staff can help you determine what is feasible for your organization in terms of data collection and analysis. Bringing more people on board during the planning stage also builds buy-in to your evaluation, and makes it more likely that evaluation results will get used for program improvement rather than collecting dust on a shelf.

• How long does it take to develop an Evaluation Plan?
That depends on how complex your program is, and how much detail you are looking for.  The Evaluation Plan Builder is set up to help you complete a basic Evaluation Plan online in about two to four hours, if you have already done a logic model for your program.  However, we strongly recommend that you gather feedback as you proceed to ensure that you gain multiple perspectives on your program and buy-in to the Evaluation Plan, as this will reduce natural resistance to the evaluation process, and produce information that is useful to a broader range of stakeholders.

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« back to Point K: Evaluation Plan Builder questions

Weren't some other tools mentioned on Point K?
You may be thinking of Theory of Change Online, the Evaluation Survey Builder, or the Budget Plan.

  • Theory of Change Online was being produced in partnership with ActKnowledge. Funding for our partnership ended before the tool was ready to be integrated into Point K. The tool is in beta testing now, but we aren’t sure when it will be finished. When it is finished, we’re not sure it’s still going to be accessible from Point K. Find out more about Theory of Change Online at ActKnowledge's website.
  • The Evaluation Survey Builder also made it to beta test stage, but didn’t progress any further. The tool’s greatest asset, conceptually, was a library of tested survey questions. In practice, this didn’t work out very well. We had trouble getting permission from our clients to adapt their surveys for public use. In beta testing, we found that when people tried to adapt surveys for their own use, they ended up with surveys that wouldn’t necessarily result in usable information. Finally, the number of low-cost survey tools has been growing over the past few years. This meant that our survey builder’s ease of use and look-and-feel would have to compete with these for-profit players. Without a committed funder, we’re just not able to do that. (Read a short overview of available survey tools from Idealware.)
  • Budget Plan: Back in the olden days (roughly 1999-2003), we did have a Budget Plan tool on our website. It was the least-used tool on the site. We received a great deal of feedback that it was too inflexible and didn't take the needs of all kinds of nonprofits into account. We retired it in 2004, and have no plans to bring it back.


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