We’re a non-profit working to enrich the quality of life for families through community-based parent-to-parent education, support and training. We’re parents helping parents, since 1974. I took over as ED approximately 3 years ago.
I believe evaluation is crucial because when done right, it allows you to use data to look inwards and unlock insights about your programs, clients and impact. Those insights can then improve your program outcomes which can lead to more meaningful funding applications. It’s a beautiful circle.
When I joined the FEC, I noticed that we’d been collecting the same data for 40 years. Families in our community have changed a lot in that time and their needs have too. Looking at our data framework we realized that what we collected was simplistic, particularly by having a catch-all demographic category called “visible minority” that was no longer reflective of our current clientele. So, we started collecting data on the race and gender of the parents we support. The results were astounding.
We learned that we had a high attrition rate among same-sex couples. Through some deep engagement with parents from this community, we learned that our programs weren’t speaking to their particular experiences and circumstances. They weren’t feeling supported and were dropping out. To address this, we overhauled our programs to better reflect the diverse backgrounds and needs of our clientele.
By creating new curriculum, classes and materials to better support specific needs of all demographics, including newcomer families, LGBT parents, single parents, etc., our attrition rates have dropped by 80% and we have doubled the number of parents we serve. Parents report high rates of program impact, such as an 80-90% reduction in conflict between parents, and an equivalent rise in their levels of confidence as parents. Our organizational funding has also steadily increased, with data being used in funding applications to support the need for our programs.
These exciting results were made possible because the stories we could tell with our evaluation data were clearly quantifying our impact to funders.
Good luck on your evaluation journey!