Within the nonprofit sector, practices are often classified as promising or innovative due to the limited availability of evaluation data and quantifiable results. However, nonprofit organizations should consistently evaluate the effectiveness of practices implemented and reevaluate their classification. When validating a practice, consider what data points and indicators will prove that the practice is successful and effective. Track these data points and strive to identify evidence-based practices that draw on concrete performance indicators.
For organizations that want to try to validate a practice with the rigor usually reserved for corporate or academic settings, a formal evaluation or research component is the next step. A formal evaluation, often conducted by an academic institution or private consultant, is essential to make the claim that a practice is evidence-based and validated through research. For many nonprofit organizations, formal evaluations to validate practices are not feasible, as the process requires extensive time and resources. However, large nonprofits that are striving to set the benchmark and remain on the cutting edge in their service area may find that a formal evaluation of practices is worth the investment.