The Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) is committed to continually enhancing members’ experience, developing the quality and ensuring the relevance of membership services, and improving the Association’s overall performance as Canada’s principal representative and supporting body for professional research administrators.
Routine evaluation of CARA’s performance is intended to act as a catalyst for organisational change and improvement, by providing the Board of Directors with useful information, intelligent analysis and feasible recommendations. Evaluation also serves to reinforce accountability; facilitates organisational and individual learning and team-building across the organisation; promotes internal and external understanding of CARA’s strategic objectives, policies and procedures, and membership services; supports our advocacy of CARA and the wider profession; and influences the evolution of our organisational culture.
The diverse nature of CARA’s organisational activities requires evaluation to be divided into constituent elements, each focused on assessing a specific area or areas of activity:
Organisational Assessment: this simple checklist is attached as Annex A and is designed to determine the extent to which core governance and management activities are enacted, informing the Board of Directors of the gaps in provision and guiding them to fulfil these actions. This covers functions relating to Board Governance, Planning & Evaluation, Financial Management, Personnel Management, and Stakeholder Engagement.
Strategic and Operational Plans: each objective of the strategic and operational plans aligns with a corresponding [qualitative or quantitative] performance indicator and evaluation measure. The Board assesses performance on a quarterly basis as part of standard reporting procedures, and annually as part of a wider review of progress against the strategic plan. Example performance indicators and evaluation measures are attached as Annex B.
Membership Survey: the annual Membership Survey records members’ experience, perception and value of CARA membership, including appraisal of all membership services delivered in the preceding 12 months. An example membership survey is attached as Annex C.
Annual Conferences Evaluation: the annual national and regional conferences are the main platforms for direct contact with the CARA membership and for many members these flagship events represent the only time in the year that they actively engage with their professional association. Evaluation of the events is therefore key to securing repeat attendance and in contributing to wider targets for membership retention. Speaker relevance, networking opportunities, the social programme, timing, cost, and location all influence members’ decision to attend and impact on their decision to renew their membership.
Webinar Programme Evaluation: CARA’s annual webinar programme is the other major vehicle for direct engagement with members, and as with the annual conferences, it is sensible to capitalise on this interaction to determine the value, relevance and impact of our other major membership initiative.
Board of Directors Assessment & Appraisal: to ensure it continues to function effectively, the CARA Board monitors its own performance and that of its sub-committees and individual directors by conducting a formal assessment on an annual basis, the results of which inform overall evaluation of the organisation’s performance.
Staff Performance Management & Appraisal: effective staff performance is essential to the success of the Association and to members’ positive experience of CARA. We will therefore take into consideration the outcomes of staff annual appraisals when considering CARA’s overall performance, although we will maintain confidentiality and will measure organisation performance without any prejudice to members of staff.
When assessing the results of the annual evaluation exercise, Directors collate data from the above evaluation techniques to conclude an organisation-wide appraisal of performance, the results of which are compiled into an evaluation report and disseminated to the CARA membership and interested stakeholders via inclusion in the CARA Annual Report.