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Ensuring the Effective Use of Beef Checkoff Dollars

Program Evaluation for Beef Checkoff Program Planning, Execution and Improvement

Have you ever wondered about the decision-making process that determines how Beef Checkoff funds are allocated? And the effectiveness of Checkoff-funded programs in increasing the demand for beef? These are valid questions for Checkoff investors to ask, and program evaluation is how the Cattlemen’s Beef Board assesses program implementation, results, and areas of growth and improvement.

The Beef Checkoff’s program evaluation consists of both internal and external assessments. Internally, Checkoff contractors establish program goals and identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are tracked throughout the fiscal year. These metrics aid in setting benchmarks that provide short- and long-term insights into a program’s performance and effectiveness. To complement the internal program, external reviews are conducted by a third party to gain more in-depth knowledge on how state partners and industry stakeholders utilize Checkoff programs and to enhance transparency and accountability of how Checkoff dollars are spent.

Checkoff Evaluation Committee

Now, who reviews program evaluation metrics? The Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils appoint producers and importers to serve on the Checkoff Evaluation Committee. Throughout the year, this 12-member committee reviews the internal, quarterly program updates that contractors submit. These quarterly reports outline program activities, target audiences, program changes, context to the outcomes, opportunities for growth, etc. Where possible, contractors also include higher-level metrics such as changes in perception, behaviors, sales data and economic impacts.

The Checkoff Evaluation Committee also conducts annual external program reviews. To gain greater insights into program effectiveness and synergies, the committee reviews programs with similarities, such as producer- or consumer-facing audiences, promotional content or educational components.

Ensuring Efficient Investments

Program implementation is not perfect, and failure is often an inherent part of success. There are times when Beef Checkoff program goals and objectives are not met. When this occurs, the Checkoff Evaluation Committee does not view this as a failure but rather as an opportunity to learn and adjust programs to ensure the effective use of Checkoff investments.

“There does need to be accountability for how Beef Checkoff funds are spent, but when program evaluation is viewed as an audit vs. a learning tool, it can have unintended consequences such as hampering program innovation or the willingness to try a new approach,” said Beka Wall, director of evaluation and outreach as the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “Whether a contractor’s goals are exceeded or not met, all information is considered knowledge that can be applied back to improving Beef Checkoff-funded programs.”

Overall, when contractors track metrics and KPIs that yield beneficial information, Checkoff spending becomes more and more efficient. “There is a well-known saying by Albert Einstein, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,’” Wall said. “If you don’t measure and evaluate programs, you can’t determine what is or is not working. Therefore, evaluation data is essential to providing insights that improve Beef Checkoff program efficiencies.”

Program Evaluation Reporting

Reporting program evaluation information is arguably one of the most important functions of the Checkoff Evaluation Committee. The committee presents program evaluation information back to beef producers and stakeholders in various ways so they can experience the wins and successes of their Beef Checkoff investments.

Quarterly Updates

The committee recognizes that program data is only useful if presented in a digestible format. Therefore, the committee breaks down quarterly report information into user-friendly dashboards that are shared with members of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee and Checkoff Program Committees. These dashboards are a tool that these committee members can use to determine the value and impact of Beef Checkoff-funded programs.

Annual Report

In addition to quarterly reports, the Checkoff Evaluation Committee compiles a public-facing annual report. This report provides program highlights and outlines how programs performed against their goals and KPIs.

The Drive

Another way is through a medium you’re already familiar with – The Drive, a quarterly print newsletter and monthly e-newsletter that delivers the latest industry facts, statistics and stories highlighting real ways Beef Checkoff dollars are driving demand for beef. Get your complimentary subscription if you haven’t already.

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