April 2015 Newsletter

Featured Blog Post: Disconnect Between Funders & Grantees on Evaluation

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Chain photo courtesy Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.com

Most institutional funders these days expect grantees to document and report their programs’ progress. They expect organizations to regularly monitor their own performance to better understand what’s working and to employ these lessons to improve program outcomes for clients and achieve greater social impact. A new Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) report describes what foundations do to support grantees’ ability to collect and reflect on program data. While investments in this area have grown significantly over the years, the report reveals that grantees and foundations may not always be on the same page when it comes to what’s needed. Read more

Guide to Building Grantee Capacity

A recent guide from the Foundation Center/GrantCraft may be helpful to funders wanting to do more --or more impactful--grantee capacity building, including for program assessment. Supporting Grantee Capacity offers its own survey findings about the key areas of and strategies for foundation investments in grantee capacity building. (Among the survey’s findings, internal performance measurement or evaluation falls below five other areas targeted by foundation investments.)

The short guide presents helpful context and recommended action steps. Of particular interest are several GrantCraft blogs on grantee capacity building, including this one on the importance of trust in foundation/grantee relationships.

I Survived the Human-Centered Design MOOC!

Along with 14,000 others around the globe, I participated in the recent Human-Centered Design (HCD) free course from IDEO.org and +Acumen. Our goal was to learn the elements of design thinking (HCD) by practicing the creative problem-solving steps on a social design challenge.

This “MOOC” (massive open online course) consisted of five in-person class sessions with my teammates—two other nonprofit consultants—over about eight weeks. We read instructions and case studies and did challenging assignments along the way. Our team, aka Rock-Con, worked on the design challenge “How Might We Provide Healthy Food Options to People in Need?” to see if we could come up with an innovation solution.

The course was intense and a lot of fun. We learned a lot about “food deserts”, the county food bank and their many local food-delivery partners. And we iterated a possible new program to extend the reach of existing efforts to improve health outcomes in low-income communities.PrototypePoster-CNA

See The Field Guide to Human Centered Design