“I have the report- now what?” 7 Questions to Ask When Reading Program Evaluations

Program evaluations provide answers to a key question: “Did this program work in a particular population and setting?” For funders who haven’t been trained in reading evaluations, wading through such reports can be confusing and time-consuming. So, to get the most out of program evaluations, here are 7 questions to ask when reading them.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation, Standards, Codes, Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation, The Philanthropic Sector









10 – Minute Impact Assessment

We all want to have impact—or, in simpler terms, make a real difference. How do we get there? This simple tool will give you a framework for discussing impact; help you identify areas of strength and opportunities for increasing your impact; and give you tips and resources to strengthen specific areas in your journey toward greater impact.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









8 Steps to Develop an Evaluation Plan

Innovation Network identified eight key steps in our 2005 evaluation of a U.S. federal policy change campaign.These steps may also be useful in other advocacy evaluations.

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Catagories: Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, Program Learning and Evaluation









A Road Made by Walking: Participatory Evaluation and Social Change

This article describes how participatory evaluation was used in a Ford Foundation–funded project to promote mixed-income housing in Atlanta. The project resulted in an increase in mixed income housing, but also in social outcomes such as increased knowledge about housing issues. Validity and reliability of the findings are demonstrated through feedback from the community members, rather than through statistical methods.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Activating the Power of Place: A Case Study of Market Creek

This article tells the story of a placed-based initiative to develop well-being and wealth in the historically underserved Diamond Neighborhood in San Diego, and discusses the place-based philosophy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the foundation’s motivation for place-based work. Its theory of change is presented through examples, along with the entry points the foundation chose for engagement and how it developed community capacity to engage effectively in this change work. The article also discusses plans to transition ownership to the Diamond Neighborhood community when the foundation sunsets in 2030.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Advanced Mini-Intensive in Grantmaking

This course includes an in-depth analysis of evaluation models; proposal assessments; funder-grantee relationships and models, especially as they apply to particular funding areas and values-based grantmaking; changes in the philanthropy law and environment; and participant-presented case studies. Course content is updated based upon recommendations of the larger philanthropy field and past participants. The course is coordinated by Richard Marker, an internationally known thought leader in the grantmaking and philanthropy field. He is joined in class by several highly respected and prominent philanthropy experts. CEU: 4

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , General Grants , Grantmaking, In-Person Workshop, Issue-Specific Grants, New Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









An Ecological Understanding of Evaluation Use

This report seeks to be helpful not only to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations, but more broadly to the fields of evaluation, aging, physical activity and public health in understanding what evaluation use looks like in context and how it can be facilitated. This case study illustrates the parameters of use (e.g., for whom? when? how?), as well as what constituted the use of the evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program Active for Life®: Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Beyond Compliance: Measuring to Learn, Improve, and Create Positive Change

At their best, systems for monitoring and measuring nonprofit performance illuminate what an organization is accomplishing, where its resources are going, and how that organization might address weaknesses and build on successes. At their worst, such systems become an expensive compliance exercise, diverting resources from program delivery without returning a greater understanding of how to achieve an organization’s goals. With that context in mind, the Center and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative developed this report to tackle questions central to effective philanthropy: How do non-profits and donors measure and manage results? What tools exist, whom do they serve, which questions Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation, Resources









Beyond the Grant: How the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Went Beyond Grantmaking to Contribute to a Major Early Childhood Initiative

Key Points The seven-year SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) initiative, created by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), aimed at systemically linking the pre-K and kindergarten worlds as a way to position vulnerable children for greater success in the early grades. At the foundation, the initiative served as a departure point for WKKF to move from its traditional grantmaking role to a changemaker role. To create change, a foundation must articulate – and commit to – a point of view about how change can occur. A theory of change can be a powerful tool to guide ongoing planning Read more

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Catagories: Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Program Learning and Evaluation









Beyond the NPR Crowd: How Evaluation Influenced Grantmaking at the California Council for the Humanities

This article describes an initiative designed to engage a broad cross section of Californians in the humanities. Initial findings from book reading groups were that participants were predominantly white, middle-aged women. Changing the type of programming to include poetry slams, photography, digital media, and writing programs broadened participation of various ages and ethnic groups. The location of the program also made a difference, with schools and community-based organizations drawing more diverse audiences than libraries.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Program Learning and Evaluation









Building Collaboration From the Inside Out

This publication is focused on building an organization’s collaboration muscles. It offers guidance on steps grantmakers and nonprofits can take to adopt a “collaborative mindset” and align values and practice so they can be better partners in collaboration. It is based on research and interviews with grantmakers, nonprofit leaders, technical assistance providers and thought leaders from 2013 through 2015.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Constructing Collaborative Success for Network Learning: The Story of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool

Despite conversations about the importance of community collaboration, foundations continue to struggle with how to best frame and support collaborative success. Existing tools to assess collaboration may not fit with either a foundation’s values or a specific program strategy. From a foundation perspective, developing a community self-assessment tool reinforced the idea that collaborative functioning is crucial and deserves attention. This article shares a story of the development and initial use of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool as a process of social construction critical to collective action and a possible indicator of network learning.  

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Critical Issues in General Operating Support Volume 2: Assessing the Impact

Many grantmakers agree that general operating support can boost effectiveness and impact for nonprofits. At the same time, however, the field continues to struggle to answer a question that has become a significant barrier to the wider use of general operating support: How are we going to measure its impact? GEO’s review of grantmaker practices suggests some answers.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Program Learning and Evaluation









Demonstrating the Value of Social Service Programs: A Simplified Approach to Calculating Return on Investment

In 2008, as charitable giving dropped by $6.4 billion, 54 percent of human service programs saw an increase in the need for their services. Additionally, 74 percent of programs specifically serving children and youth reported being underfunded or severely underfunded. As government and foundation grantmakers transition from charitable giving to social investment, a Gates Foundation report on eight methodologies to assist measuring social value creation finds the methodologies are many years away from being suitable for both nonprofits and grantmakers. To better recognize and communicate the work of frontline practitioners, there is a need to change the orientation of our Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Designing an Evaluation of a New Initiative: A Practical Approach to Ensure Evaluation Use

This article describes the process of planning an evaluation of the Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy initiative. The initiative was launched in 2007 to reduce tobacco use among American Indians, who disproportionately suffer the negative health effects of tobacco use. The work of the initiative and the evaluation had to incorporate an understanding of tribal structure as well as of the traditional use of tobacco in American Indian sacred ceremonies. The theory of change was conceptualized as circular, rather than linear, in keeping with American Indian philosophical traditions. The planning process, utilizing evaluators familiar with community mobilization and policy evaluation Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Discovery Timeline

The Discovery Timeline provides a web-based opportunity to learn more about the history, events, and decisions of Discovery – the primary initiative of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. You can start with a broad overview and note contextual events during each time period. Then, read descriptions of key foundation decisions. You can also access evidence-based and reflective findings from the “learning and results boxes.” The “also of interest box” to the right is updated periodically as new information is made available.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: The Lynch Foundation and Teach For America: How Philanthropy Can Help Ideas Become Reality

Peter and Carolyn Lynch take a portfolio approach to their philanthropy, and Teach For America is just one example of how they’re returning outsized impact for their investment dollars.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Brian Olson Lays New Groundwork for Charter Schools

Too often, it’s not the academics that bring down a charter school; it’s the building. Together with Civic Builders, hedge fund manager Brian Olson is offering leases to charter schools—under one condition.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Connie Duckworth Weaves a Way for Afghan Women

What are your plans for retirement? In Afghanistan, Connie Duckworth is putting her Wall Street ambition and savvy to the test.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Jeff Walker and NPower: Building on Existing Success

Philanthropist Jeff Walker began with a desire to help nonprofits struggling with technology, discovered that a nonprofit with a similar mission already existed, and built it into a thriving national network.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Pam Omidyar and the Science of Giving

Pam Omidyar’s philanthropic work—including founding or co-founding with her husband, Pierre, the Omidyar Network, Hope Lab, and Humanity United—demonstrates how she has translated her passions into social change. Includes: International philanthropy, Microfinance, Medical philanthropy.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Program Learning and Evaluation









Effective Giving

It takes time and experience to learn how to give effectively, but the journey can be fun and rewarding. In this issue, people with surplus income talk about what they’ve learned about giving–what’s satisfying, what’s hard, what makes giving most effective. You’ll hear from “ordinary people,” as well as well known philanthropists. From Steve Kirsch, large-scale venture capitalist with his own multi-million dollar foundation, to Wayne Muller, who advocates giving small and simply on a local scale, this issue invites you to explore the range of available options –and find out what giving effectively means you.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Mission and Values, Program Learning and Evaluation









Embedded Philanthropy and the Pursuit of Civic Engagement

This article examines a range of civic engagement strategies pursued by embedded funders conducting community-change work in chronically disadvantaged communities. Embedded funders are place-based foundations that (1) commit to working in a particular community or communities over an extended period of time; (2) pursue direct and ongoing relationships with a range of community actors; (3) make community relationships and partnerships a primary vehicle of their philanthropic operation; and (4) provide extensive supports and resources beyond conventional grantmaking. Working as an embedded funder tends either to correlate with a prior commitment to civic engagement or to promote the development of such Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, New Grants Management, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Program Learning and Evaluation









Enrolling the Eligible: Lessons for Funders

Many social programs have a gap between the number of individuals eligible for services and the number enrolled. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation implemented Covering Kids & Families to increase enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Grantees sought to increase enrollment by raising awareness among low-income families, simplifying the application process, and coordinating among programs. Funders are encouraged to consider the lifecycle of programs and organizations, the skills in coalition-building and working with public officials that are needed, and the need to fit political strategies with the local culture.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluating a Voter Outreach Initiative

This article describes an initiative designed to increase voting rates among low-income and ethnic groups in southern and central California communities. A rigorous evaluation demonstrated that participation rates could be increased by up to 10% among these groups. Using local, well-trained canvassers and making contact during the four weeks preceding the election were some of the more effective practices.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluation Basics for Grantmakers

Five Guidebooks for Grantmakers released in 2011, these concise guides provide resources for developing and expanding the use of evaluation and evaluative thinking in Grantmaking organizations. Basic Concepts for Grantmakers Using Logic Models Evaluation Data Collection Evaluative Thinking for Grantmakers Commissioning Evaluation Integrating Evaluative Capacity into Organizational Practice 2012 – This manual offers concrete ways to integrate evaluation skills and evaluative thinking, beyond the program level, into everyday organizational practice, helping to ensure stronger programs and to support more effective organizations that are better able to deliver on their missions. The new guide also includes a review of Evaluation Essentials Read more

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluation Capacity Building: Examples and Lessons from the Field

Innovation Network developed these three introductory evaluation documents as part of Building Nonprofit Capacity to Evaluate, Learn, and Grow Impact, a workshop we presented in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Scaling What Works initiative. Excerpt: Capacity building is a catch all term for an array of efforts a nonprofit organization may undertake to strengthen its operations or activities. In addition to evaluation, a few common areas in which nonprofits seek to improve capacity include technology, back office management (e.g., accounting and human resources), fundraising, advocacy, communications, governance, leadership development, and volunteer recruitment and development.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluation Capacity Building: Funder Initiatives to Strengthen Grantee Evaluation Capacity and Practice

Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB) is the process of improving an organization’s ability to use evaluation to learn from its work and improve results. Organizational learning is incredibly important. Organizations that are adept at learning from mistakes and adapting to new challenges are more likely to be successful, and in the nonprofit sector, more likely to make significant progress toward mission-related outcomes. In general, ECB can be used to: Improve the knowledge and skills of individuals. Staff members need to have an understanding of evaluation, and the confidence to apply basic evaluation approaches and methods to their work. Everyone does not Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluation for Models and Adaptive Initiatives

Although there has been a growing emphasis on use of experimental designs in evaluation, there is also increasing agreement that evaluation designs should be situation specific. The nature of the program is one of the key factors to consider in evaluation design. Two types of programs – models, which provide replicable or semi-standardized solutions, adaptive initiatives, which are flexible programming strategies used to address problems that require unique, context-based solutions – require different evaluation designs. Evaluation of models requires understanding the stage of development of the model program, with summative evaluation done only when the model is fully developed. Adaptive Read more

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluation in Philanthropy: Perspectives from the Field

This publication offers a brief overview of how grantmakers are looking at evaluation as a means of improvement. It is based on a review of the current literature on evaluation and learning, outreach to grantmakers that have made these activities a priority, and the work of GEO and the Council on Foundations to raise this issue more prominently among their members.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Finding the Win in Wicked Problems: Lessons From Evaluating Public Policy Advocacy

Many of the social issues private foundations and other philanthropies attempt to address — poverty, homelessness, global climate change — are wicked problems. That is, they defy easy definition, lack permanent solutions, and have multiple stakeholders. The wicked problems framework helps make explicit the challenging nature of the issue to be addressed, requires an inclusive style of leadership that seeks stakeholder involvement, and demands candid exchange among stakeholders about the nature of the problem and effectiveness of efforts to address it. A wicked problems framework provides a set of criteria and questions for evaluators of advocacy efforts to ask all Read more

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Catagories: Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Foundation Evaluation Startup: A Pause for Reflection

This article reports on the accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned in creating a new Department of Research and Evaluation at the California HealthCare Foundation. Different tools were developed to address each of three key areas: performance assessment, organizational learning, and program evaluation. These new processes and tools have been well received by both staff and the board, and have become increasingly important as resources become more scarce, making understanding and maximizing the impact of investments even more critical. Fostering a culture of evaluative inquiry in a fast-paced, payout-oriented environment is a significant challenge – program staff often feels pressured to Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , General Grants , Program Learning and Evaluation









Four Essentials for Evaluation

GEO created this guide to help grantmakers get to the next level in their evaluation efforts. Four Essentials for Evaluation builds on our previous publication, Evaluation in Philanthropy, to offer grantmakers a practical perspective on how to build or strengthen the capacity of their organizations to tap the transformative power of evaluation for learning. This guide provides grantmakers with ideas, insights and examples from their peers to help them develop and strengthen the following four essential elements that are part of any successful evaluation approach: lead, plan, organize and share.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Program Learning and Evaluation









From Awareness to Action: A Case Study of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Philanthropic Strategy

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption was created in 1992 to increase adoptions from foster care in North America. A decade later, the Foundation concluded that it needed to change its philanthropic approach to achieve that goal. In response, the Foundation launched the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids initiative, in partnership with Wendy’s, to implement and evaluate an alternative method to finding families for hard-to-place children. This case study examines the Foundation’s philanthropic strategy to enhancing its effectiveness, identifies lessons that may help other foundations, and draws implications for the respective roles of private and public initiative in addressing major social issues.

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Catagories: Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Funding the Extraordinary: An Evaluation of the Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture Program’s Institutional Capitalization Grantmaking

This report showcases NFF’s evaluation of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. To see two executive summaries that distill findings from this report, see “Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization” and “Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers.”

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









General Operating Support: Action Guide

As grantmakers strive to help nonprofits succeed in today’s difficult environment, one practice stands out as part of the solution: general operating support. In this publication, based in part on a GEO listserv discussion, GEO explores the nature of general operating support, how to make the case for it within your organization, and how to make it work.

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Catagories: General Grants , Program Learning and Evaluation









Getting to Results: A Tool and Lessons from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s K-12 Education Portfolio

In 2002, the Annie E. Casey Foundation adopted a results-based accountability (RBA) framework to track and report on the results of their philanthropic investments. The RBA tool was piloted in a few program areas, including its K-12 education portfolio. Grantees were highly engaged in an iterative process to determine appropriate measures, refine the theory of change, and how to track progress. Overall, the RBA tool enabled staff to get a sense of how grantees were doing and therefore how the foundation was doing in a way that hadn’t been possible before. The K-12 program got a much clearer sense of Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Gill Foundation: Strategically Funding the LGBT Civil Rights Movement

Former Gill Foundation Executive Director Rodger MacFarlane describes Gill’s strategic approach to funding the LGBT civil rights movement. He shares details of the Foundation’s strategic planning process and subsequent restructuring to better serve its grantees and advance its mission.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Program Learning and Evaluation









Give Smart Content Library

Getting real, lasting results from your philanthropic giving requires planning, strategy, realism and partnership. Whether you’re new to philanthropy or farther along, the materials in the Give Smart library can help guide you in your philanthropic journey.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Mission and Values, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









GMNsight: Ideas About Big Data

“This has been the crossover year for Big Data — as a concept, as a term and, yes, as a marketing tool. Big Data has sprung from the confines of technology circles into the mainstream.”  — The New York Times What Big Data is, and what it means for how grants are made, are key questions in philanthropy circles thanks to the explosion of data-minded collaborative projects like The Reporting Commitment. Are grantmakers using Big Data? How does a foundation begin its Big Data adventure? What about privacy concerns? Will focusing on numbers take the humanity out of philanthropy? GMNsight’s Spring 2013 Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , New Grants Management, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Going Deeper: Can Investigative Reporters Add Value to Assessment and Evaluation?

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supplemented its standard evaluation approach by engaging professional journalists to elaborate on evaluation findings. The resulting reports are more direct, even critical, than any prior Knight Foundation attempt to evaluate and assess. It produced deeper looks into the intent and outcome of major initiatives, analyzing and addressing flaws in the theories of change underlying initiatives. The goal of reaching external audiences was not achieved.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is a diverse community of more than 500 grantmakers reshaping the way philanthropy operates to invest in nonprofit success. Mission: Understanding that grantmakers are successful only to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success. Nonprofits are successful at achieving more meaningful change in our communities when they have the resources and skills to be effective. By not adequately responding to what nonprofits say they need most to maximize impact, funders can inadvertently do harm to the organizations and causes we intend to support. Changing grantmaker Read more




Grantmaking for Community Impact Project: Summary of Findings in Seven Sites

A review of the seven sites researched in NCRP’s Grantmaking for Community Impact Project highlights the billions in public benefits secured by 110 organizations in 13 states.

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Catagories: General Grants , Program Learning and Evaluation









Grantmaking Strategies: Corporate Philanthropy

In today’s challenging economic environment, it is imperative that a company’s corporate citizenship program be strategic and tied to business goals while also meeting community needs. A company must maximize the impact of its community investments. Learn how to design and implement a strategic program, including writing a philosophy of giving, determining the giving guidelines, structuring the program, and developing a budget.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Financial Stewardship, Grantmaking, New Grants Management, Program Learning and Evaluation









How Do I Measure Results – Both Mine and My Grantees’ – In a Practical Way?

One of the most common concerns donors have is how to measure the results they are getting with their dollars. This “Frequently Asked Question” document helps donors think through how they can measure their own – and grantees’ results thoughtfully.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , New Grants Management, Program Learning and Evaluation









How To Guide: Defining Philanthropic Success

Your personal definition of success will provide much-needed focus to you and everyone supporting your work. Find out which three criteria will help you create a working definition of philanthropic success.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Program Learning and Evaluation









How To Guide: Getting Better Over Time

To be a successful philanthropist, you’ll need to make good decisions about how to spend your money, time and influence. Here’s advice on how to do just that. Three practices will help you stay on track: Measure your grantees’ performance thoughtfully. Request and reflect on data that can inform decision-making. Ask: are my grantees and their programs getting results? How can I help them do better? Ensure your philanthropic strategy is tied to grantee strategies. Ask: Do my grantees’ results contribute to the overall success I am aiming for? Am I clear on how? Take into account external factors. What Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Justin Laing on Successful Foundation-Grantee Relationships

Heinz Endowment Program Officer Justin Laing discusses keys to successful funder-grantee relationships with Philanthromedia’s Susan Herr.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Program Learning and Evaluation









Key Findings of More than Money: Making a Difference with Assistance Beyond the Grant

Vice President — Research Ellie Buteau, PhD shares key findings from CEP’s research on nonmonetary support.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Program Learning and Evaluation









KIDS COUNT Data Center

KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state project of the Casey Foundation to track the status of children in the United States. At the national level, the principal activity of the initiative is the publication of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which uses the best available data to measure the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children state by state. The Foundation also funds a national network of state-level KIDS COUNT projects that provide a more detailed, county-by-county picture of the condition of children. By providing foundations, policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue-Specific Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Leveraging Social Sector Leadership

Strong leadership is critical for effective social sector organizations, yet the sector chronically underinvests in its leaders. What do social sector leaders need to help them succeed and, just as importantly, stay in the sector? What can grantmakers do to support these leaders? This publication synthesizes findings from new research conducted by the authors and offers recommendations for grantmakers.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Making Measures Work For You: Outcomes and Evaluation

An outcomes-based approach to evaluation works, proponents say, because it uses straightforward metrics to assess actual impact. How else to know if the work you’re supporting is leading to the desired changes? Other grantmakers counter that outcomes measurement should be approached with care. Hasty assumptions or over-confidence in the idea that program impacts can be translated into hard data can skew not only the evaluation but the work itself. This guide looks at tensions that drive the debate about outcomes measurement, as well as common questions about its potential risks and rewards.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Mapping Change: Using a Theory of Change to Guide Planning and Evaluation

“What are we doing, and why do we think it’s going to make a difference? Are we being effective?” Grantmakers ask evaluation questions like these of their grantees and themselves. This brief guide explains why grantmakers use theories of change to guide their questioning, unearth assumptions that underlie their work, establish common language, and develop strong action plans. Contributors to the guide also describe how a theory of change sets the stage for evaluation by clarifying goals, strategies, and milestones.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Master Juggler Executive Institute

Leadership development for foundation executives June 21-December 30, 2015 At Exponent Philanthropy, we know some things about you. You are committed to serving your foundation, your board, and your community. You make it a priority to leverage the most from your time and money. And you often put others first, not always getting around to investing in yourself and your professional development. With you in mind, we developed the Master Juggler Executive Institute, a carefully crafted 6-month program for those in the most senior staff role at their foundations. Program Highlights A unique opportunity for executive directors/CEOs and the foundations Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Individual Development - Strengthening/Building Your Career, Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, Mission and Values, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Measuring the Impacts of Advocacy and Community Organizing: Application of a Methodology and Initial Findings

The increasing emphasis by funders on strategic grantmaking and measurable outcomes may be a disincentive to support policy and advocacy work, because of the perception that outcomes can be difficult to assess. A tool for measuring impact can reduce the barriers to funding advocacy and policy work. The tool draws upon the literature on evaluating advocacy and organizing, social capital building efforts, and return on investment approaches to evaluation. The tool was applied in two sites, where funders found it useful to understand advocacy impacts and learn how advocacy can enhance their grantmaking goals.

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Catagories: General Grants , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Mini-Intensive for New Philanthropists and Grantmakers

Immerse yourself in a comprehensive learning experience, and fuel your passion for grantmaking and private philanthropy. Faculty members and guest speakers from across the philanthropic community help you to learn how to give wisely. Explore a variety of funding approaches through presentations, discussions, graded assignments, and problem-solving exercises for groups and individuals. If you are an independent philanthropist, a member of a philanthropic family, or a professional grantmaker with just a few years of experience in grantmaking, this intensive is designed for you.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Financial Stewardship, General Grants , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, New Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Program Learning and Evaluation









Networked Grantmaking: Technology for Funders

Case studies and new industry data highlight how online and mobile technologies are changing the global cause-funding ecosystem and are providing opportunities for grantmakers, nonprofits, and others to engage more effectively and to increase their impact. This interactive course explores examples that illustrate the necessity of embracing technology, the challenges that organizations face as they implement technology, and opportunities for developing strategic approaches to effectively embark on innovation. Gain a deeper understanding of technology’s strategic importance to measuring, demonstrating, and increasing the impact of your organization. Also, acquire the know-how to improve engagement with global cause-funding ecosystem partners.

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Catagories: Communications , New Grants Management, Program Learning and Evaluation









Organizational Learning at The Skillman Foundation

This report evaluates how The Skillman Foundation’s work practices and culture, and its relationship with its core intermediaries, supports the Foundation’s aspiration to be a high-performance learning organization.

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Catagories: Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Pathfinder Funder Edition: A Practical Guide to Advocacy Evaluation

Pathfinder is a practical guide to the advocacy evaluation process. This edition guides funders through the advocacy evaluation process from start to finish. Editions for advocates and evaluators are also available. Drawn from Innovation Network’s research and consulting experience, Pathfinder encourages the adoption of a “learning-focused evaluation” approach, which prioritizes using knowledge for improvement.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









PerformWell

PerformWell, a partnership of The Urban Institute, Child Trends, and Social Solutions, provides a free, on-line, interactive resource to help nonprofits better manage program performance. The site was launched on March 6, 2012, and the partners are continuing to build new content. As of July 2012, more than 13,000 unique visitors had been to the site downloading more than 6,000 PDF assessment tools.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









Philanthropy FAQ: What Are The Five Most Common Traps I Should Avoid In My Philanthropy?

Discusses five common traps philanthropic decision makers make – and how to avoid them.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Program Learning and Evaluation









Philanthropy Lessons: The Many Forms of Evaluation

Evaluating impact can involve diverse data points, from tangible measures such as people served and dollars spent to less concrete aspects including lessons learned and challenges faced. Effective philanthropists embrace evaluation, understanding its dynamic and complex nature.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing

It is not a surprise that we are seeing a growing interest among trustees and foundation leaders in mission-related investing (MRI). With over $600 billion in the endowments of U.S. private foundations, it is logical to consider how these funds can be put to use beyond generating income for grantmaking and begin to be a catalyst for social change via investments in market-driven entities. With this guide, Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing, plus other research that has been collected on MRI, there is now a strong body of work that can provide donors, trustees, staff of foundations, and the Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Practice, Practice, Practice: Preliminary Findings From an Evidence-Based Practice Funding Initiative at The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

The Tower Foundation supported a five-year initiative to support the implementation of evidence based practices (EBP). The average award was a three-year award of $84,050. The underlying grantmaking theory of change was that behavioral health providers could bring empirically tested protocols to their communities and sustain them over time if supported by long-term funding to support the real costs of implementation (e.g., training, technical assistance, adherence to program protocols, and cultural change). Grantees cited the high cost of training, certification, and recertification – especially in the face of high staff turnover – as a primary challenge to implementing EBPs. Several Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Readiness for Evaluation and Learning: Assessing Grantmaker and Grantee Capacity

When undertaking a new organizational or program approach to evaluation, begin with questions of readiness. What is the existing EVALUATION PRACTICE of my organization or program? What is the existing EVALUATION CAPACITY of my organization or program?

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Catagories: General Grants , Program Learning and Evaluation









Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers

With the generous support of the Kresge Foundation, NFF released two summaries sharing lessons learned on capitalization in the arts sector. The summaries distill findings from NFF’s study of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. This summary, Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers, is written for arts funders who are looking to make smart and impactful investments. It includes tips for planning a grantmaking strategy, making the grant match the need, and ensuring that the grant is implemented successfully.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development: Lines of Responsibility

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development: Lines of Responsibilities chart seeks to clarify the distinct roles within the Foundation program staff team. The program officer works with the national program office and their grantees. The evaluation and communications officers work with the independent evaluation and communications contractors. Grantees must be responsive to contractors, but primarily concerning issues of evaluation and communications.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development: Process

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) commitment to applying program evaluation to learn from our work to improve the health and health care of all Americans provides the underpinning for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Series. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development documents depict an ideal process around program evaluation. For very good reasons, the process cannot always operate this way. Therefore, these documents do not serve as process standards, but represent that which RWJF aims for in evaluation.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









Small Investments, Big Changes: A 10 Year Review of the Casey Fellows Mini-Grants Program

In 1998, The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched a small grants program for alumni of the Children and Family Fellowship program. These mini-grants were designed to support fellowship alumni in their ongoing leadership efforts. This review highlights some of the mini-grant funded efforts and details some of the returns on the Foundation’s investments.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation









Stop managing grants. Start managing your network.

Scaling solutions, building resilience, catalysing innovation: these are the philanthropy sector’s buzzwords du jour. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these goals – except that the current programme officer position isn’t set up to deliver them. If you want to have social impact, stop thinking of this role as managing a set of grants and instead consider what it means to be a network manager.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Individual Development - Strengthening/Building Your Career, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Strategies for Facilitating Evaluation Capacity Building

This webinar was presented as a part of the Developing Capacities for Country Monitoring and Evaluation Systems series sponsored by UNICEF, IOCE and DevInfo. It presents strategies, challenges and lessons learned in facilitating evaluation capacity building as well as key factors in effective training for a sustainable evaluation practice.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Program Learning and Evaluation









The Blind Men and the Elephant: Learning a Little at a Time About Civic Engagement

This article, written from the perspective of the evaluator, describes what happened in one community in which four non-collaborating funders were supporting community development programs. The Treeline Collaborative evolved from grassroots origins to become a leading organization in the community, serving as a one-stop shop for many programs and providing a structure for civic engagement of residents. A collaborative evaluation would have enabled a deeper understanding of the Treeline Collaborative, the outcomes it attained and missed, and the multiple roles it plays in the community, perhaps leading to more effective program and funding decisions.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , New Grants Management, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Center for High Impact Philanthropy Blog: How Can I Help?

In the wake of natural disasters, health crises, and violence donors often ask, “How Can I Help?” To shed some light on this question, we developed a blog series on a variety of different disaster relief and recovery topics.  

Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation, Resources









The Challenges of Place, Capacity, and Systems Change: The Story of Yes we can!

Yes we can!, a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, was designed to improve educational and economic outcomes within the foundation’s hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. Since 2002, Yes we can! has supported five core strategies designed to trigger the systems changes needed to reduce educational and economic inequities in Battle Creek. Yes we can! has achieved some important wins to date; for example, more residents are involved, more neighborhoods have stronger neighborhood associations, and more organizations are engaging residents in their decision-making processes. However, the scale of wins remains small, and the targeted systemic Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Colorado Trust’s Healthy Communities Initiative: Results and Lessons for Comprehensive Community Initiatives

This article summarizes how 29 diverse communities throughout Colorado implemented the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI), which was conceived and funded by The Colorado Trust to engage community residents in the development of locally relevant strategies to improve community health. In line with the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities model, CHCI emphasized (a) inclusive, representative planning; (b) a broad definition of “health”; (c) consensus decision making; and (d) capacity building among local stakeholder groups. Communities implemented an array of projects (on average, six per community) that extended well beyond traditional health promotion and disease prevention. The most common action projects Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Colorado’s Trust’s Advocacy Funding Strategy: Lessons Learned for Funders of Advocacy Efforts

In an effort to help advance the field of advocacy and public policy funding, The Colorado Trust published this evaluation report as a joint effort between funder and evaluator, describing where they saw success, where they saw failure, and lessons learned along the way.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









The Grantmaker’s Role in Theory of Change

Innovation Network developed these three introductory evaluation documents as part of Building Nonprofit Capacity to Evaluate, Learn, and Grow Impact, a workshop we presented in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Scaling What Works initiative.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , New Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results (Second Ed.): Book Review

The second edition of The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results is a straightforward guide, with excellent and varied examples, that achieves its purpose of giving readers a “basic understanding of how to create and use logic models” (p. xii). As enthusiastic champions of logic models, the authors adhere to the assumption that articulating precise and detailed logic models will lead to better results.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









The Power to Produce Wonders: First Ever Report to Examine the Value of Family Participation in Philanthropy

Based on two years of research, this report is the first ever in-depth examination of the value of family philanthropy to the family, to communities and to democracy.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Quest for Deeper Learning and Engagement in Advanced High School Courses

GLEF and a research team from the University of Washington worked with Washington’s Bellevue School District to develop and assess the impact of project-based learning on upper-level courses in high school. Research suggests that Advanced Placement (AP) courses may focus too much on accelerated content at the expense of deeper conceptual learning. The number of students taking AP courses has grown, but along with this the number failing has increased. GLEF and the research team tested project-based learning (PBL) to counteract this trend. Results after two years are promising. Students in the PBL-AP courses are performing as well or better Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Real-Time Evaluation Memo: A Tool for Enabling Evaluative Thinking and Learning in Foundations and Nonprofits

Real-time evaluation memos provide data-based feedback in a timely manner to inform decision making. Memos must be concise and include both data and expert synthesis and interpretation. The foundation must have a learning culture if the memos are to most useful; there must be time to reflect on the content and implications. The balance between data quality and timeliness must be managed and will be dependent on the topic. While useful for program management, these memos do not provide the kind of summative information that board members and other stakeholders may require.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









The Reality of Measuring Human Service Programs: Results of a Survey

Nonprofits hoping to improve their programs’ services or reach must first understand their own effectiveness. Measurable numbers—how many meals served at a soup kitchen, how many students in a mentoring program graduate high school, what percentage of the target population does not have access to affordable housing—are critical data that can help organizations identify where they can improve their programs. The public conversation about measuring programs is often theoretical, focusing on what organizations could or should do rather than on tactics for success. At Idealware, we were curious about the opposite—what specific tactics are organizations using to measure their programs? Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









The Social and Economic Impacts of Healthy Food Financing

Lack of access to fresh, healthy food is a pressing issue for the 18 million Americans who live in food deserts. In California alone, nearly 1 million residents, 45 percent of whom are low-income, live in areas without supermarkets or large grocery stores nearby. In addition to providing access to healthy food, grocery stores and healthy food retailers also represent important economic drivers that create much-needed jobs and generate economic activity for local communities and local governments. Launched in July 2011 by a broad coalition of public and private partners led by the California Endowment, the $273 million California FreshWorks Read more

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Catagories: Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy.

Take a moment and read these two words: strategic plan. Now close your eyes and picture one. If what comes up is a thick binder, gathering dust on a shelf next to other thick binders from five and ten years past, you’re not alone. We believe that a better understanding of the history of strategy and what caused the demise of binder-bound strategic planning can point the way to re-inventing strategy for the world we live in today.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Strategy Landscape

Given the scale and complexity of the challenges they face, foundations increasingly need to look beyond their organizations to other stakeholders–both in philanthropy and across sectors–to mobilize sufficient resources and effort to move the needle on pressing social problems. Yet working together remains a challenge: simply knowing what other funders are supporting can require time-consuming research, meetings, and calls. As one foundation executive recently explained, “When funders come together for a day to talk about an issue, we spend 80 percent of the time talking about what we do, which leaves us with only 20 percent of the day to Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation









Towards Transformative Change in Health Care

Analysis shows that only 31 percent of 880 foundations and institutional grantmakers that give billions towards domestic health-related causes gave half of their grants to meet the needs of the poor, disabled, the elderly and other underserved populations. Langston and NCRP recommend two strategies for health funders to improve significantly the impact of their philanthropy: allocating at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit underserved communities and 25 towards advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement that promotes long-term systemic reform.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Program Learning and Evaluation









When and How to use External Evaluators

In March 2002 we presented this material at the national conference of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), Capacity Building for Impact: The Future of Effectiveness for Nonprofits and Foundations. Our session, titled “When and How to Use External Evaluators,” was designed for program officers fairly new to evaluation who might be called upon to advise grantees about contracting an external evaluator or to directly commission evaluations on behalf of their foundations. We hoped to impart some of the skills and lessons we have learned through our own experiences with incorporating evaluation into a foundation setting.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation









Working Well With Grantees

CEP’s research shows that program officers can be the distinguishing factor between a foundation that makes a difference—and one that simply makes grants. Working Well With Grantees: A Guide for Foundation Program Staff offers program staff critical guidelines for building better relationships with grantees. The findings and suggestions in the guide are based on data from tens of thousands of surveys of nonprofits conducted by CEP during the past decade. We’ve updated, summarized, or expanded upon findings from six of our publications that focus on how foundations and grantees can best work together. We also share for the first time some new data and analysis Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Mission and Values, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Your Toolkit for Successful Evaluations

This resource has been designed and assembled by the Macro International evaluation team with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as a starter kit to promote the integration of effective evaluation into grantmaker education programs.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation