A non-profit organization should use both qualitative and quantitative performance measures, based on the organization’s mission goals and objectives, to show financial and programmatic accountability in a transparent environment. Qualitative and quantitative research methods can be used in marketing, financial planning, fundraising and program research and evaluation. This paper will define and discuss these models as they relate to a non-profit organization. Examples of their application and benefits will be given with respect to the Employment Skills Center, a 501 (c)3 organization.
Qualitative versus quantitative analysis When making decisions in a non-profit organization, there are two general approaches to problem solving: quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative approach uses mathematical reasoning involving numerical data and involves data collection using such methods as structured surveys and interviews and review of related documents. Qualitative research involves non-numerical information, such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, open-ended surveys and observation.
Both have their place in research and analysis conducted in non-profit organizations. Effective use in non-profit organizations Using both qualitative and quantitative analysis, separately and/or together, to evaluate and improve the performance of an organization is critical to its success. Data that may be used with these methods include financial and operations data, marketing, communications and fundraising data, programs and outcomes data and external data (“The State of Non-profit Data”. 2012. ).
Analyzing budget revenues, expenses and variances between projected numbers and actual numbers uses a quantitative method and is helpful in creating a more accurate budget. In addition to budgeting, the Employment Skills Center uses quantitative analysis in measuring outcomes for reporting to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and funder reporting. These outcomes include participation rates, program completion, educational gains, employment and retention and client demographics. Qualitative analysis is used to evaluate client needs and satisfaction in order to improve program services.
It is also used in volunteer management and retention and staff development. Mixed methodology is useful in board evaluation, job performance reviews, fund development, marketing and communications and improving program effectiveness. Impact analysis is the cornerstone of non-profit sustainability and involves both quantitative and qualitative methodology. It allows you to find out what is and is not working in your organization. It shows your current and potential funders, and the community, what your organization does and how it benefits your clients and the community.
It can help raise additional funds by providing evidence of the organizations effectiveness. It can improve staff effectiveness by identifying strengths and weaknesses. By looking at certain statistical data provided by the U. S. Census Bureau and the U. S. Bureau of Labor and statistics such as population projections, educational levels, unemployment rates and economic indicators we can evaluate the current need for services and use the data in grant applications, donor solicitations and community awareness.