501 Commons provides easy to use assessments that can help you get a fresh look at your organization. Assessments are like a preventative health checkup. They let you look at your organization in terms of standard practices and actions that support organizational health, effectiveness, and financial stability.
We offer an overall organizational assessment and specialized assessment tools, all designed specifically for nonprofits:
- Organizational assessment (all areas)
- Financial management assessment (Use before you pay for your first audit!)
- Emergency preparedness
- Human resources
- Volunteer management self-assessment
- Fundraising capacity self-assessment
- Board of directors self-evaluation
- Staff climate survey (measures staff engagement and satisfaction)
The assessments we use are ‘behaviorally anchored” which means the levels are defined through a description of the practice or behavior rather than just a numeric scale. This approach not only makes it easier to provide accurate information, but also points out the small steps that can lead to an improved score for each part of the assessment.
How It Works
A consultant or team will be assigned to work with you on the assessment. Generally our assessments are done through an electronic survey. We provide you with summary data if it is filled out by more than one person. We can offer confidentiality for respondents when that is important to getting honest and complete feedback.
Having several people fill out the assessment and then to meet and discuss their perceptions is encouraged. It is often helpful to have a consultant who can facilitate these discussions. After you have the results, we can also help you communicate the results and develop plans for improvement.
501 Commons can also conduct internal and external interviews with clients, staff, board members, community stakeholders, funders, and elected officials. Having a neutral party conduct these interviews ensures that you get frank and complete information about how your organization is seen.
Our assessments are good learning tools because they give you information about the changes you would need to make to improve your score. Assessments often point out small changes that lead to quality, efficiency, or service improvements. In some cases we can provide you with benchmark data from other nonprofits.
Comparing results over time gives the organization a way to identify and celebrate successful changes. If you do an assessment on a regular basis, it can provide you with a baseline and then, with subsequent assessments, a way to measure the impact of changes you have made. An assessment helps you target your limited leadership and financial resources to the highest priority areas.
Assessments are also an objective tool to factor into ED/CEO and staff performance assessments. And let’s not forget the board. Doing an annual self-assessment can help the board identify issues that may go unnoticed and unsaid but are limiting the satisfaction of board members.