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

Examining Cultural Bias in Evaluation

Over the past few years, I’ve been called to examine the ways my cultural, racial and socio-economic background influences the work I do with nonprofit staff and boards, especially in program evaluation projects. I’d like to share a few insights I’ve gained from this exploration of what is now often called “white privilege”. My middle … Read more

A Key to Working with Consultants: The Design Team

In my July 2016 newsletter, I wrote about a strategy project I was leading–with consulting partner Regina Neu–for a professional membership association. I described the well-received retreat exercise we developed to help board and staff members better understand how important decisions were currently being made and to design more robust and transparent decisionmaking protocols for … Read more

Does Everyone Understand How Decisions Are Made?

Last time, I mentioned I was launching a “strategy alignment” project with a professional membership association. Consulting partner Regina Neu and I were hired to help the association: 1) hone in on the most crucial of their current strategic plan’s long list of priorities, 2) create an actionable implementation plan with accountability, 3) develop greater … Read more

The Difference A Theory of Change Makes: Ways The Tough Process Reaps Big Rewards

Theory of change planning is hard work; there’s no question about this. It challenges leaders to question why they do what they do and have been doing for a long time. The process forces the leaders to make tough decisions, decisions they may have avoided making for some time. For instance, it is not uncommon … 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

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