Why the program review process is way more important than you think?
By Dr. Nathaniel S. Wright, 2021 Community Impact Chair
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of United Way’s annual Program Review. Annual agency reviews provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to gain front door access to Community Partner staff and volunteer leadership.
One of the clearest benefits of regular reviews is the opportunity for Community Partners to go deeper into agency blind spots and build organizational capacity from the inside out. More importantly, the program review process is a chance to not just discuss the personal impact of vital programs, but also ask questions about whether expectations were not accomplished, and why. By initiating open dialogue, organizations receive valuable feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders on how they can improve organizational performance.
For our 23 Community Partners, this review process provides a roadmap for establishing goals and for agency leaders to check progress informally between reviews. This allows for the identification of problem areas and course corrections before it’s too late. The process is also a chance for agencies to adjust their goals so that goals continue to align with the organization’s strategic priorities. Program Review can also guide the development of training plans to maximize the organization’s strengths and address any skill or knowledge gaps that might hold them back from achieving their mission.
Despite what many may believe, it is often challenging for nonprofits to meet the requirements of performance appraisal. It takes a team, working together, to accomplish goals. Like many intermediaries across the country, Lubbock Area United Way provides the technical expertise to help agencies identify, track, and document performance. This is a very important tool for agencies that are seeking to have more impact and expand their reach.
With the increased demand for social service delivery in our local community, it is now more important than ever for agencies to be intentional in ensuring that they are meeting the needs of the most marginalized. While the performance appraisal process may be daunting, it will take us all working together to make sure our Community Partners have the tools to provide key stakeholders and interested citizens with relevant information on social impact and whether they are truly forces for good.