A Model for Multilevel Advocacy Evaluation

FavoriteThe Colorado Trust has provided three years of general operating support to nine advocacy organizations working to increase access to health through policy change work. The Colorado Trust has worked with Innovation Network to design an evaluation that 1) builds grantees’ capacity to evaluate their work and incorporate real-time feedback into their strategies; 2) monitors the progress of each grantee toward its unique policy goals; and 3) assesses growth in capacity of the health advocacy community in Colorado as a whole.

Are We There Yet? How to Know Whether Your Communications Are Effective

FavoriteThis article describes the results of a study on current knowledge and practices in evaluating foundation communications. The study consisted of three parts: an online survey of practitioners, a series of in-depth key informant interviews, and an extensive literature review.

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

FavoriteAn initiative engaging a broad cross-section of Californians in the humanities found that book reading groups participants were predominantly white, middle-aged women. Changing the type of programming to include poetry slams, photography, and writing programs broadened participation of various ages and ethnic groups.

Children’s Futures: Lessons From a Second-Generation Community Change Initiative

FavoriteChildren’s Futures is a 10-year, Trenton, NJ initiative to improve the health and well-being of children zero to three years and ensure that they are ready for school. This paper, written by the evaluator and the Foundation’s program and evaluation officers for Children’s Futures, describes the initiative’s first five years, the lessons learned, and the tradeoffs made when conscious choices were made to avoid the pitfalls of earlier CCIs.

Community Building for Children’s Health: Lessons From Community Partnerships for Healthy Children

FavoriteIn 1993, Sierra Health Foundation set out to see if community building could make a difference in children’s health and well-being in Northern California. The overriding assumption was that community building is an effective approach for improving the health of young children. In CPHC community building meant mobilizing residents to use the community’s assets for the common good. This paper describes the process the sites undertook and the results that were achieved in the 31 communities that participated over the 10 years of the initiative.

Community-Based Collaboration: A Philanthropic Model for Positive Social Change

FavoriteOn June 11, 2002, Sophia King, a 23-year-old African-American woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot and killed by an Anglo police officer in Austin, Texas. This event inspired the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to search for a role that philanthropy could play in improving community conditions and healing significant rifts. This paper describes how the Foundation collaborated with the community to enact systemic changes in the mental health and other systems.

Evaluating a Voter Outreach Initiative

FavoriteThis 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.  

Factors Influencing Donor Partnership Effectiveness

FavoriteThe International Development Research Centre (IDRC) produced six case studies on jointly funded programs related to the environment, global health, and information technologies in developing regions around the world. A two-dimensional tool probing eight factors that influence donor (funder) partnership performance and interinstitutional communication was developed and used in conjunction with a Partnering Process Model to guide the preparation of the case studies. Among the factors considered (history of the partnerships, level of commitment, decision-making, etc.), communications among donors and within IDRC was the most important variable related to success of the partnerships.

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

FavoriteMore foundations are funding public policy change and standardized policy advocacy evaluation methods are emerging. This article takes a look at the federal policy efforts funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Discusses two rising grantmaking issues: 1) creating boundaries around the definition of the problem (not easy when it is truly wicked); and, 2) the right stakeholders identifying those boundaries and solutions to the problem within it, arise as key to understanding the “why” behind outcomes of a public policy advocacy.

Foundation Readiness for Community Transformation: Learning in Real Time

FavoriteThis article describes the internal structures and processes adopted by The Skillman Foundation to support the iterative practice of “learning and doing” in the first phase of a rapidly evolving, ambitious community change enterprise in six Detroit neighborhoods. The foundation created a “learning team” that used a program logic model and other evaluation and learning mechanisms to foster ongoing candid discussion and build capacity to work in new ways. Although it is still a work in progress, logic model thinking is leading to greater clarity about the activities and intended results.

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

FavoriteThe 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.  

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

FavoriteA 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.

Strategic Communications for Influence: Lessons From the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Its KIDS COUNT Initiative

FavoriteThe Annie E. Casey Foundation is using the KIDS COUNT network in a new way: as a strategic communications tool in its focused efforts toward policy change, broad social change, and improved conditions for vulnerable children and families. Grantee activities surrounding the release of the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book led to the quantity and quality of media that Casey believes will help achieve its desired outcomes. Relationships with journalists, use of locally relevant information, use of locally relevant media advocacy strategies, good preparation, and a solution orientation were present in states demonstrating desirable media coverage.

Speak Your Peace: A Communications Strategy for Changing Community Culture

Favorite“Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project” (SYP) was developed by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Millennium Group to improve the civility of public discourse, under the premise that this would strengthen community decision making, expand civic engagement, and increase residents’ interest in elected office. The SYP campaign used a multi-modal approach to promote nine principles (or “tools”) adapted from Forni’s book Choosing Civility (e.g., pay attention, take responsibility, apologize, give constructive criticism).

Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System

FavoriteThe Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy (DLSFP) initiative sought to build the advocacy capacity of ten people of color led organizations to address food and agriculture systems issues and broaden the diversity of the sustainable agriculture and food movement. Describes some of the findings of the initiative such as: limited civic and leadership capacities of their constituencies, lack of inclusiveness into the agricultural food sector. The lessons learned from the initiative suggest a new theoretical model for building advocacy in people of color-led organizations.

Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change

FavoriteThis paper examines 11 comprehensive community initiatives to better understand how these complex efforts can reach the scope, scale, and sustainability needed to achieve lasting community change. While there has been a fair amount of discussion in the field about what has not worked, there has been less analysis of the specific practices, approaches, and mechanisms that do lead to success. This paper looks at those success factors as they relate specifically to the ability of a comprehensive community initiative to achieve the scope and scale required to generate community-level outcomes and to sustain those positive impacts over time.

Using Community-Based Participatory Evaluation (CBPE) Methods as a Tool to Sustain a Community Health Coalition

FavoriteParticipatory evaluation has set the standard for cooperation between program evaluators and stakeholders. Coalition evaluation, however, calls for more extensive collaboration with the community at large. There are many different labels for participatory evaluation, however not one specific to coalition work. This article describes Community-Based Participatory Evaluation CBPE, takes time, money and skilled personnel but can lead to more accurate results and coalition sustainability. Recommendations on how foundations and grantee organizations interested in coalition work should fund CBPE are discussed.

Turning the Ship: Moving From Clinical Treatment to Environmental Prevention: A Health Disparities Policy Advocacy Initiative

FavoriteThe California Endowment’s Community Action to Fight Asthma Initiative (CAFA) took a non-traditional approach to reducing asthma disparities that funded treatment programs. CAFA fostered community activity to effect change in the areas of education, housing and environmental policy. In this article, authors discuss the CAFA’s theory of change and grant making strategy included assistance in 1) Local, regional, and state-level coalition building 2) Prevention concepts, environmental asthma policies, policy advocacy 3) Evaluation, using continuous feedback to fine-tune strategy.

Tools to Support Public Policy Grantmaking

FavoriteThis article provides guidance on how foundations can frame, focus, and advance efforts to achieve public policy reforms. Five essential steps for developing public policy strategy are described: choosing the public policy goal, understanding the challenges, identifying influential audiences, determining how far those audiences must move, and deciding how to move them.  

The Pros and Cons of Comprehensive Community Initiatives at the City Level: The Case of the Urban Health Initiative

FavoriteThis paper analyzes the impact of choosing a citywide focus over a neighborhood one, beginning with RWJF’s rationale for choosing to intervene at the city level. It examines how that focus influenced the planning process for the initiative in the UHI cities. The study demonstrates that the decision to intervene at the city level provided increased opportunity to build political power and create meaningful changes in public and private systems.

Proving Foundation Impact on Public Policy Empirically: The Case of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Consumer Choice for Adults With Developmental Disabilities

FavoriteThis is a case study of how the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s initiative to support choice of program provider for developmentally disabled adults uses some advanced statistical techniques to demonstrate the impact of the foundation’s funding. This study suggests that to get the greatest impact on policy change, foundations should consider offering modest competitive grants to governmental departments; spending the funds in regional groupings; and focus on jurisdictions that have demonstrated interest in the policy area by spending their own funds.

The Potential of Partnerships for Health Advocacy and Policy Change: The Legacy of the Partnership for the Public’s Health Initiative

FavoriteStarting in the late 80s the Institute for Medicine began calling for involvement of health professionals in the development of policy affecting health. The Partnership for the Public’s Health was designed to build the capacity of local health departments and communities to work together to improve health through advocacy and policy change. Results included 1) the extent to which building the capacity of health departments and community groups to jointly advocate for policy change led to sustained work in health advocacy 2) policy-related legacies of the initiative.

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

FavoriteThe Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI) was a comprehensive community initiative designed and funded by The Colorado Trust as a means of empowering citizens to make their communities healthier. This paper describes: the background and development of the initiative, including the general principles that underlay the CHCI model; the degree to which the planning process was carried out according to the model within the various sites; and the initiative’s key outcomes, especially with regard to civic engagement, new health-promotion programs, and new infrastructure for community problem-solving.

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

FavoriteThis paper describes the work done to promote resident engagement in distressed neighborhoods in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. Through a CCI known as Yes we can!, several strategies specifically designed to promote more engaged and powerful residents, were implemented. This paper describes what was learned about how issues of place, organizing strategy, and who you actually engage in the work can significantly influence the overall success of resident engagement efforts.

Philanthropy, Evaluation, Accountability, and Social Change

FavoriteThe author argues that many foundations have substituted process accountability for accountability for contributing to social change. Accountability in terms of required reporting is important, but it sets a floor, not an aspirational ceiling. There are tools — such as risk analysis, systems approaches, and game theory — that can help philanthropy engage in work on complex social problems that cannot be deconstructed into a series of small, linear projects.

Youth Civic Engagement for Dialogue and Diversity at the Metropolitan Level

FavoriteThis article analyzes Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity, a foundation-funded program designed to increase dialogue, challenge segregation, and create change in metropolitan Detroit. It draws on multilevel evaluation of the program and analyzes some of the lessons learned.