That’s what evaluation expert Edith Asibey calls "the tactical syndrome — broad or undefined goals leading to that laundry list of communications tactics," a deadly illness you want to avoid like the plague. Strategy is the only antidote — front end planning (including planning the evaluation approach) followed by evaluation on an ongoing basis.
But breathe a big sigh of relief. I’m not going to pound you for not evaluating your marketing work (although for goodness sake, evaluation is the other half of planning and, without both halves in play you are driving blind). Instead, I’m going to point you to a great new resource that will make it far easier to evaluate the impact of your communications. And, as you know, hardcore ROI is a critical weapon in your fight to build (or at least maintain) your nonprofit marketing budget and focus.
Asibey previewed her new evaluation guide last month at the Communications Network conference. Here’s what Edith had to say about the tool, and her underlying approach to making evaluation more possible and useful for nonprofit orgs. The tool will:
- Be easy to use, practical and interactive, designed to help practitioners integrate evaluation into their strategic communication plans, as well as identify milestones of progress and success (rather than just post facto evaluation, which doesn’t do much for your current campaign, although it might help next time).
- Enable course correction before more investment is misdirected, by highlighting progress benchmarks on an ongoing basis.
- Build on proven practices currently in place (the tool is designed around foundation communications, but there’s a lot there relevant to nonprofit communications agendas). Asibey and team found most communications tracking to be “one-offs, and focused on tactics; few groups are looking at overall communication strategies and thinking of evaluation in a holistic way.”
I’m waiting with baited breath, and will let you know when the tool is released. But for now, start to shore up your planning process to include tracking on the far end. That’s the only way to ensure your nonprofit marketing investment is doing its best for your org.
P.S. Learn how to craft a compelling story for your org in 8 words or less. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!