“I just don’t know if youth are being honest with us on this survey.” In a recent coaching session with a youth-serving organization, we were talking about the program director’s concern that the youth in their program were not filling out surveys truthfully. At ResultsLab, we hear this a lot. Organizations are concerned that they are over-surveying their clients and not getting the information they need.

In these moments, we often ask staff to reflect on the question: is your measurement practice aligned with your organizational values? We see heads tilt to the side, eyes narrow, and brows furrow – the signs of deep thinking. Many organizations have never thought to cross-check their evaluation practice with their values.

Here is why this is important: the way participants interact with your organization and experience your organization goes beyond what they receive in programming – it applies to how data is collected from them as well. If positive youth development and youth voice are core values for your organization, but you are asking youth to sit down twice a year and fill out a huge survey that asks deeply personal information, are you really living out your values? There are more youth-friendly ways to capture the data you need to demonstrate your impact.

Here are a few tips and ideas for aligning your measurement practice to your organizational values:

  1. If one of your values is to be client-centered: Assemble a small group of participants and ask them to review your data collection tools and give their opinion. Are they too long? Are questions culturally-appropriate? Is that language?
  2. If you value inclusivity: Pick apart your intake forms. Check to ensure you are giving appropriate responses for gender identification, family units, and race/ethnicity.
  3. If you believe resourcefulness is valuable: Take an honest look at all your different funder reports. See if there is overlap or duplication with the information you are collecting. Use this as an excuse to have an open, honest conversation with one of your funders about the data collection burden felt by your participants and your staff. Ask about sharing data across funding organizations or if a shorter tool is acceptable. We find that many funders are open to having these conversations with grantees.

Want to learn more? We are always happy to chat. Give us a call or shoot us an email for more information.