Outreach Practice Assessment: Understanding Your Outreach Practices and Needs

Now that you've reviewed some Best Practices, the next step is to assess where your organization stands with each one. This section will help you analyze performance levels for each of the outreach practices described in the previous section.

The sections below are also available for download.

Performance Scale

To assist with your assessment, we've created a rubric with five different performance levels that can be assigned to each practice. The scale ranges in value from Level 1 (Integrated) to Level 5 (Not Applicable).

  1. Integrated (INT): The practice is a routine part of your organization's outreach program. Your project or center has determined the best way to perform the practice and has systematized it, coordinating with other aspects of your project or center. A practice at this level is proactive, valued, and successful.
  2. Well-Developed (WDP): The practice has resources allocated, responsibilities are assigned, and the process is managed. The practice may still not be completed regularly, perfectly, or punctually, but it's deliberate and proactive.
  3. In Development (DEV): The practice is unorganized, unassigned, and has little to no resources committed to it. This doesn't necessarily mean that it's completely unsuccessful—it may just mean that one individual is performing the practice with very little assistance. Because of this, these practices are often inefficient, overdue, over budget, or just plain incomplete. A practice at this level is often performed in a reactive (rather than proactive) manner.
  4. Not Performed (NP): The practice hasn't been attempted by your organization, or hasn't been accomplished for a long time. It doesn't mean that the practice isn't applicable, just that it's been overlooked or set aside.
  5. Not Applicable (NA): The practice, for any number of reasons, is impractical or not a viable option for your project or center. It's possible that the viability of this practice will improve with time and planning, but it doesn't apply to the organization's current situation.

Once you're familiar with best practices and the performance scale, it's time to assess your organization's current levels and capacity – you're ready to perform an outreach audit. Below you'll find a simple rubric we've created to help evaluate efforts and capabilities by applying the performance scale to best practices. The rubric is designed to help your organization consider its position at any point during the cycle of your grant. We also recommend taking specific notes on areas for improvement as well as data on success. Your audit and notes will be a helpful reference for your Annual Report or reporting to your National Visiting Committee.

Performance Rubric

Key: INT (Integrated), WDP (Well-Developed), DEV (In Development), NP (Not Performed), NA (Not Applicable)

Strategic Practice Description Level
Identify collaborators Who is leading or contributing?          
Identify mission Basic outreach content (90-sec)          
Define target audiences Key stakeholders, groups          
Define strategy Purpose/scope          
Scan marketplace Opportunities/challenges          
Define goals Specific/measurable targets          
Create outreach brief 1-2 pages communicating plan          
Planning Practice Description Level
Create a timetable Milestones, dates, contingencies          
Create a budget Staff, time, money, overhead          
Select channels Social media, e-mail, publicity...          
Develop tactics/activities Promotion channels, actions          
Create a workplan Map timetable w/ deliverables          
Develop messaging Elevator pitch, talking points          
Establish spokespeople Credible messengers          
Execution Practice Description Level
Project management Use of brief, workplan, budget          
Develop promo materials One-sheet, website          
Build partnerships Strategic relationships          
Train spokespeople Consistent communications          
Timely communications Series of contacts, news tie-ins          
Measure impact Qualitative/quantitative data          
Analyze/report results Report value, insights, lessons          
Adjust your plan Prepare for next steps          

Tip: Plan to revisit your audit at a future date, perhaps quarterly, and at least annually. In addition, anytime your project or center experiences a significant change or directive (NVC feedback, leadership or funding changes, etc.), an audit will help your organization align with those changes.

Ready to start planning? Follow the case study in the following section, Outreach Assessment: Sample Audit, with examples throughout.