How to Adjust Evidence-based Practices
To Meet Your Programming Needs
March 21, 2023
By Maryfrances Porter
In the Academy last week we focused on evidence-based practices (EBP) for nonprofits and what to do when there isn’t something already out there that meets your programming needs.
The Short Answer: Use expertise to adjust the program to meet the needs of your specific clients, your budget, the context.
Who’s expertise? We don’t pay enough attention (in this world) to different kinds of expertise. Scientists are experts and can use what they know to make thoughtful adjustments. You are an expert on your mission and your organization and can use what you know is possible and make thoughtful adjustments. Your clients are experts and there is no one better to tell you what their needs and resources are.
How to Adjust: There’s no magic answer. Nonetheless – Every.Single.One.Of.You adjusted to COVID to meet the needs in the context of a pandemic. There’s NO RESEARCH on that. You assessed the need, used good judgement, and jumped in. Usually (and we all hope going forward), there won’t be that kind of world-wide shift in context. And, usually, you make only the adjustments needed and try to keep the key elements of the EBP in place.
What’s Too Much Adjustment? Honestly, we don’t know – because adjustment isn’t scientifically studied and the commonly accepted way of knowing is through science. However, if you are thoughtful AND you survey your clients, check in with them, and track progress, you will know whether your programming is working for them. You can also ask a scientist! They are more responsive than you might think. And, of course, you can always ask me!
How do You Back Up Adjusted or New Programming? Most recently, I have not encountered a nonprofit that did not have a really good reason for what they do that could be cited in science and/or by national organizations naming it as a best practice. You probably do too.
Articulate the general topic and impact you are seeking, type that into Google looking for “evidence base,” e.g., “evidence base for housing upgrades to preserve affordable housing.” Type it in…go look! Focus on reading the highest-quality, nonpartisan content.
Learn more in the ImpactStory Academy!
Partnerships for Strategic Impact
At Partnerships for Strategic Impact®, I have all the tools to build out the structures and strategies you need for collecting actionable impact data; I train staff in how to use them, analyze data, and make action steps for change; I teach you to tell powerful impact stories. My goal is your sustainability: I provide just the right amount of coaching and ongoing support to ensure success.
This is within reach. It’s not harder than managing your budget. Plus, you, your funders, and the people you serve deserve to know more about the value your organization delivers.
If you’re reading this, then you’re already part of my network. Schedule some time on my calendar. There’s no sales pitch and no obligation. Just curiosity and answering your questions. I am the seasoned program-evaluation, program-development, data-storytelling consultants you need, right in your back pocket. I am here to bring order to the process of figuring out how to track and use your impact story.
Your ImpactStory™ Coach