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Future Evaluation and Training Needs
Our research suggests that
the one component of strategic planning where unit coordinators struggle the
most is implementation. Conceptually, they understand the importance of
developing a strategic plan, but they don't know how best to implement the
plan, especially given tight budget and time constraints. They are interested
in more concrete guidance or examples of promising practices that have proven
successful for other units that are similar to theirs. One potential strategy
moving forward would be to select a small, yet diverse group of MRC units and
work very closely with them to develop detailed strategic planning templates.
These templates could be posted on the MRC national Web site for other units to
reference as they work through the strategic planning process.
Also, many MRC units reside
in housing organizations that may have resident expertise in developing and
implementing strategic plans. Unit coordinators should be encouraged to seek
out and tap into this local expertise to help them work through the process for
their MRC. Often, receiving guidance and support from someone "who has been
there" can be extremely influential. At the same time, this collaboration provides
an opportunity for the housing organization to better understand the goals and
capabilities of the MRC unit.
Many MRC coordinators
mentioned using the core competencies for the MRC program as the foundation for
setting their unit's goals and guiding their efforts. They indicated that they
would like to have more standardized guidance from the national level on how
these core competencies relate to strategic planning, logic models, and program
evaluation. Although the competency matrix offers various types of training for
each competency, many coordinators sought one national standard on which they
could base their training goals, with additional training based on local needs.
MRC coordinators expressed a
desire for creative approaches to both volunteer engagement and performance
measurement. One coordinator noted that the biggest challenge she faces is
coming up with creative ways to get volunteers involved in the unit's
activities, including participation in performance assessment activities. She noted
this involves learning your audience first and figuring out what will build
their enthusiasm to participate. She stated that it would be helpful to get
guidance on how coordinators can "understand their audience" so that both
training and evaluation activities can be designed to elicit higher levels of
In response to these stated
needs, below we suggest a set of support enhancements that may be useful to MRC
units facing constraints in available time for evaluation, a lack of expertise
in conducting evaluation activities, and needing continuing guidance. Each enhancement
varies in the amount of staff time and technology support costs required in
order to offer it to the MRC units.
Enhancements requiring a
high level of effort to establish and a moderate level of effort to maintain:
- Online "logic model"
- FAQ section on MRC Web site.
- Word®- or Excel®-based
evaluation templates available via the MRC Web site.
Enhancements requiring a
continuous moderate-to-high level of effort:
- "Ask an Expert" advice via
- Expert review of
in-process MRC self-evaluations
- Peer consultation network.
- Direct onsite technical
Enhancement requiring a
continuous low level of effort:
- Dissemination of
successful MRC self-evaluations.
often need continuous support to foster evaluation, and evaluation is vital for
MRC units to demonstrate their value to the community and the nation. MRC
leadership may wish to consider allocating funds to an independent organization
to provide one or more of the support enhancements listed above.
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