Disconnect Between Funders & Grantees on Evaluation

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 … Read more

How Strategy & Theory of Change Converged to Strengthen a Nonprofit

Several years ago, a social justice organization in an underserved low-income community solicited significant stakeholder input and developed a strategic plan that laid out a vision and broad goals for long-term positive social change. The planning team did not create an implementation plan to operationalize its ambitious goals, however. A few years later, a funder … Read more

January 2015 Newsletter

How Linking Strategy to Theory of Change Built A Stronger Organization Several years ago, a social justice organization in an underserved low-income community solicited significant stakeholder input and developed a strategic plan that laid out a bold vision and broad goals for long-term positive social change. The planning team did not create an implementation plan … Read more

October 2014 Newsletter

What Does “Evidence” Really Mean? Every few months, I read an article or blog post about “evidence-based practices”—and particularly about what constitutes “evidence”. Last year, I read a provocative two-part essay in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) arguing that nonprofits should NOT evaluate their own work and should leave the creation of “evidence” to the … Read more

What Does “Evidence” Really Mean?

It seems I see a new blog post or article every day on Randomized Control Trials, Evidence-based Practices and what kinds of program evaluation yield acceptable “proof” of impact. A provocative two-part essay in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) last year argued that nonprofits should NOT evaluate their own work and should leave the creation … Read more

July 2014 Newsletter

I know you’re working hard to wrap up projects before your vacation or just returning from vacation to way too much unfinished business. I’ll keep this short so you can enjoy your summer! I’ve had fun (mostly) developing my new website in WordPress. Check out the new content and a slew of handy resources there. … Read more

Process Mapping Improves Program

I recently worked with an inner city nonprofit agency’s family resource center to improve internal program performance measurement systems and tools. The program provides parenting education and support services to immigrant mothers with young children. Its director wanted to better understand the program’s impact on clients’ lives and be able to report more reliable data … Read more

Lessons from a Grantee Capacity Building Project

Below are key lessons from theory of change work I led recently as a consultant to early childhood grantees of San Francisco’s Bella Vista Foundation (BVF). A long-time strategy and evaluation consultant to foundations and nonprofits, I offered a workshop introducing theory of change to grantees in the foundation’s Infants & Families Connecting (IFC) program. … Read more