October 2015 Newsletter

I just finished teaching a 2-evening Program Evaluation course at California State University East Bay. This month, I engaged students in a quasi-debate fueled by a 2-part SSIR essay arguing that nonprofit service providers should NOT evaluate their own program outcomes. Because they lack social science research expertise and face conflicts of interest in reporting … Read more

July 2015 Newsletter

I recently came across a powerful metaphor linking evaluation and storytelling. The source of the metaphor, grantmaker John Bare of the Arthur M. Blank Foundation, says that when he first meets nonprofit staff, he asks them what they–not their funders or donors–need to know about a program they’re implementing to learn which parts work and … Read more

Moneyball for Government and the Marketplace for Evidence

Heard of Moneyball for Government? If not, you might want to know about this growing movement encouraging policymakers to rely more heavily on the use of data and evidence to make funding decisions–like the Oakland A’s portrayed in the 2011 film began using statistics to choose their team. The folks behind Moneyball for Government include … Read more

What Is Your Sacred Bundle? Evaluation & Storytelling

Original post 6/12/15 in Foundation Center San Francisco’s “Philanthropy Front & Center” I recently came across a powerful metaphor linking evaluation and storytelling. The source of the metaphor, grantmaker John Bare of the Arthur M. Blank Foundation, says that when he first meets nonprofit staff, he asks them what they–not their funders or donors–need to … Read more

April 2015 Newsletter

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

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