Hold Firm to Your Vision, Mission and Values During Crisis

“Don’t Waste a Good Crisis” – Source disputed, see note below* By now, we’ve all gotten a lot of advice to help nonprofit and philanthropic leaders like yourselves make it through this tough time. I’ll share a few recent tips I’ve especially liked. Focus on What Really Matters Focus on your organization’s vision of a … Read more

Musings on Cultural Humility in Evaluation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my work with diverse leaders and staff of nonprofits who have sought my services to select meaningful indicators to track program outcomes and then to create practical strategies for collecting, analyzing and reporting the data to stakeholders. A couple of recent experiences prompted me to reflect on this … Read more

Why Is Changing Course So Tough?

When an organization’s leaders embark on the journey to systematically seek feedback from participants about their experiences of a program, they have made a decision—conscious or not—that business as usual is about to change. For the new internal program evaluation system to succeed, the group may need to acquire new resources, but for sure it’s … Read more

Are Blindspots About to Trip You Up?

A May 6, 2019 Nonprofit Quarterly article—“Hey Foundations: Nonprofits Can’t Register for This Conference, but That’s Not the Real Problem”–called out foundations and their affinity group, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), for excluding the groups that do the heaviest lifting in the social sector from their upcoming conference. Author Kari Aanestad, co-director of GrantAdvisor.org … Read more

Working with Assumptions and Biases

  I recently participated in an American Evaluation Association (AEA) webinar called “Working with Assumptions to Unravel the Tangle of Complexity, Values, Cultural Responsiveness”. Its content resonated deeply with me because I regularly include an Assumptions Exercise in planning processes I lead with clients and have found it to be a powerful learning opportunity. It’s … Read more

How Widely Do You Share Your Evaluation Results?

This question intrigues me because of how much it implies about an organization’s culture and values around learning, failure and transparency. In my Program Evaluation classes at CSUEB’s Nonprofit Management Program, students engage in a mock debate about whether it’s better for nonprofits to do their own program evaluation or to bring in external evaluators … Read more

Gauging Progress Toward High Performance

Last newsletter (July), I wrote about the plethora and uses of nonprofit organizational capacity assessment tools, such as the popular OCAT and CCAT. In researching such tools, I came across one that was new to me–Performance Practice (also called the Performance Imperative Organizational Self-Assessment or PIOSA). I liked its structure, transparency and the way its developers and … Read more

Who’s Assessing Whom & Why?

I’ve been reflecting on the growing popularity of organizational capacity assessment tools, used for a variety of purposes by nonprofit leaders, consultants and funders. I did some research and discovered there are literally dozens of tools available for free or low cost online. A thoughtful 2017 guide includes a database of 91 tools and describes … Read more

Can I Be Frank?

Sitting down to write this post, ideas were swirling around my head, colliding into each other. I had just read several recent reports and blog posts set aside in a “food for thought” email folder. There was Open Road Alliance’s startling—but not surprising—research finding that “Funder-created Obstacles” were the most common type of roadblock mission-driven … Read more

Empathy and Social Justice

A couple weeks before the year-end holidays, I fell down and injured my knee and wrist. While not the first time I’ve had serious injuries, it was the first time an injury caused me serious mobility challenges. For over a week, I could barely walk and didn’t go out much. The experience was humbling. When … Read more