Every healthy nonprofit wrestles with a few critical questions over its lifetime. Among them are: 

 How do we know our mission is working?  

  • How do we prove to our donors we are advancing our mission?  
  • How do we expand our impact? 

One way to answer these questions is through anecdotal evidence. At Goodwill NCW, we often tell the stories of those whose lives have been impacted by our programs and services. In fact, you can find many inspirational stories posted regularly on our blog and social media pages. 

We also answer these questions with data. Although you can find data about our mission impact on our website today, we want to continue to develop the methods that evaluate our effectiveness. It is no secret that humans are complex, and when you are trying to move the needle on the goals Goodwill NCW focuses on like “skill building,” “sustained employment” and “improved financial stability, pulling in experts to make sure you are on track is helpful. 

“Goodwill NCW is a well-established organization that provides real value to the communities they serve,” Amy Washbush, Associate Director of CommNS Co-Create said. “It was a great pleasure to work with Goodwill NCW to ensure that their evaluation effort captures the impact of work and offers insights into how they can continuously improve.” 

 The process took place over the course of six months and resulted in a review of our current practices, resources for other organizations’ best practices and a plan for moving forward. 

Goodwill NCW mission impact evaluation image

“Our work with Co-Create validated what we are doing well related to our program evaluation methods,” Sara Bell, VP Education, Development, and Outcomes at Goodwill NCW said. “It also gave us beneficial insights into how we could take our evaluation process to the next level. We have integrated many of the recommendations from Co-Create into our plan and I look forward to seeing how these changes improve our processes.” 

It is important to Goodwill NCW to get our mission right. Mission is why we exist, and we are accountable to our communities and the people we serve to “…be dissatisfied with your work until every person in your community has an opportunity to develop to their fullest usefulness and enjoy a maximum of abundant living,” as the founder of the Goodwill movement, Edgar J. Helms famously said. 

We are grateful to the CommNS Co-Create team at UW–Madison for their partnership and for lending us their expertise in the field of nonprofit studies. To learn more about Goodwill NCW’s partnership with CommNS Co-Create, read their recent blog post: Goodwill Industries of North Central WI partners with CoCreate to improve their evaluation plan