ASSESSMENTS

The Nonprofit Resource Network (NRN) offers a variety of assessments--from community needs assessments to marketing assessments to technology assessment. In general, assessments start with the current status (of the community, marketing techniques, technology and makes recommendations based on identified needs. Assessments are generally the FIRST STEP in making organizational changes. Assessments are foundational to "next steps;" resulting data "justfies" movement and changes.

Examples of NRN Assessments you may choose may include, but are not limited to:

See below for more detailed descriptions of these assessments and contact Cheryl Batdorf at 717.871.7178 or at janeen.maxwell@millersville.edu for more information.

COMMUNITY NEEDS ASSESSMENTS

Community needs assessment are critical in the community benefit sector. By definition, community benefit organizations (CBOs) exist to provide benefit to our communities. But if CBOs try to meet needs without learning if those needs actually exist, they operate in a vacuum and put their funding, their nonprofit status and thus, their very existence in jeopardy. Community needs assessments engage a wide variety of agency stakeholders or potential stakeholders through focus groups, online surveys, "street surveys" and phone interviews. Rather than depending anecdotal stories from a few people who may benefit from a new service, program or agency, community needs assessments gather and analyze quantitative and qualitative data from many people and organizations that represent them. Community needs assessments identify:

  • Unmet needs
  • Effectiveness of current services
  • Improvements needed in current servcies
  • Overall community support.

Owned by Millersville University, the NRN is uniquely positioned to conduct needs assessment due to the access we have to faculty researchers and student workers can assist in data collection and analysis.

Along with needs assessments conducted as part of strategic planning, the following organization accessed NRN's Community Needs Asssment Services:

 

  • Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership
  • Lancaster Public Library

COMMUNITY IDENTIFICATION

Community is a term so broad that when catch phrases like "community outreach" or "community service" are used, they are hard to define (e.g. Outreach to WHAT community? Service for "what community?") When leaders want to better understand their target market or target audience for a marketing campaign, they conduct market research. However, when organizations want to learn more about the people they serve--their clients, users, consumers, patrons, they must identify who their specific "community" is. They may find it useful to better understand how that community developed. By clarifying their communities, they are better equipped to meet community needs.

Based on Scott M. Peck's work on community, this highly interactive process answers the following questions and more:

  • Who IS our community?
  • What stage of development is our community in?
  • What are our strengths?
  • How do we capitalize on our strengths in our outreach effforts?
  • What are the barriers we face in reaching our constituents?
  • How can we engage other community organizations/sectors to eliminate/minimize those barriers?

Along with identifying the community served in most strategic planning processes, the NRN provided facilitation around community identification for:

  • LGBT Center Coalition

SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENTS/ORGANIZATIONAL AUDIT

Climbing out of the economic slump has left many CBOs with little vision for future programming or even a healthy existence. After walking alongside disillusioned organizations for a few years, the NRN's Preferred Consultant Network created a Sustainability Assessment. This 70-question survey is completed in conversation with organizational leadership. To day, it has been successful in identifying both areas of organizational strength and also areas for improvement. Even if your organization is not struggling to survive, this assessment can be used to conduct an audit of organizational strength. Among areas assessed, the tool covers:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Board Strength
  • Human Resources/Team Building
  • Project Management
  • Financial Management
  • Legal Issues
  • Fundraising/Resource Development

To date, organizations that have engaged in the NRN's Sustainability Assessment process include:

 

  • Opera Lancaster
  • Disability Empowerment Center
  • The Arc
  • No Longer Alone Ministries
  • Mount Hope Nazarene Retirement Community
  • Library System of Lancaster County

MARKETING ASSESSMENTS

What type of marketing is best for your agency? Given your organizational culture, what would you choose as the best media combo for messaging. How do you choose the tactics that will lead to sucess?

  • Traditional print
  • Variable Data Printing (VDP)--"mass customization"
  • One-to-One
  • Social Media
  • Online
  • Email Marketing
  • TV Ads
  • Radio Ads
  • Blogs
  • Trigger marketing
  • Cross media

TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENTS

Information technology SHOULD be aligned with the vision, mission, goals of the organization. With limited budgets and staff, many community benefit organizations tend to choose what's least expensive and/or what meets immediate needs rather than planning more strategically for future goals. A technology assessement is the first step in more strategic thinking around IT services. It looks first at the organization's mission and then identifies whether or not the hardware and software allow the organization to work in the most cost-effective way possible while continuing to fulfill its mission. An IT assessment analyzes your current IT environment and then provides the beginning of a roadmap to future where IT best supports the work. It answers the question: Is our current technology providing the right level of service to our end-users (clients), our front-line and back office workers? Does our current technology give us consistent and acccurate data?