Building Evaluation Capacity Across International Offices

For NGOs with offices in a wide variety of geographic locations, establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system that works for both the headquarters office and field offices can be a real challenge. If those offices operate in different countries, that challenge becomes even harder.

As a former program manager for Latin American health programs, I appreciate that needs and outcomes differ by region, by country, and even sometimes by community. I remember long conversations with my colleagues about how a solution for one geographical area would never get off the ground in another! So, how can we create a measurement framework that serves both field office and headquarters’ needs? Continue reading

What Surprises Me about Human Rights Grantmaking

When your job centers on helping funders assess needs, devise strategies, and manage and evaluate their grantmaking, you wish that every field would have a resource like Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking. Since IHRFG and Foundation Center launched this series four years ago—and added an interactive website three years ago—I have made regular use of these tools to understand levels of foundation engagement within and at the intersection of issues ranging from women’s rights in the Global South to environmental justice in the United States. This research has also been invaluable in helping the foundations I work with to see just how many peers and practitioners have aligned interests and could become partners in realizing their goals.

That is why I was surprised when I sat down to read the 2017 Edition of the Advancing Human Rights report. I realized that in using these resources to answer my very specific, client-focused questions, I had been missing some findings and trends that are beginning to reshape my thinking about foundation support for human rights. Continue reading

Using an Ecosystem Approach to Define Nonprofit Strategy

You’ve been hearing about the “external environment” “ecosystem” “collaboration” “collective impact” and “hubs, spoke, nodes, etc.” a lot lately. Have you been wondering how all these concepts should influence your organization’s strategic priorities? So have we. Continue reading

Municipalities: The Missing Link To Social Sector Capacity Building

When it comes to capacity building, my colleagues and I have seen a noteworthy increase in municipalities interested in strengthening the social sector at the local level. Capacity Building 3.0 – TCC Group’s collaborative approach – calls for elevating the capacity of all players in the social sector to achieve greater impact. If we consider which players have the greatest potential reach and influence to lead in capacity building, why has so little attention been directed at municipalities? Continue reading

Grow Stronger & Achieve Greater Impact

Earlier this month, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) held its National Conference in Minneapolis – bringing together nearly 900 foundation professionals, executives of nonprofit organizations, consultants, and other stakeholders for a stimulating and inspiring two days. The organization promoted the conference as “an event that offers participants the opportunity to explore the most relevant topics in the philanthropic field and hear new ideas for smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and achieve better results.” Note the emphasis on “grow stronger and achieve better results.”

I had the privilege of attending along with four of my TCC colleagues, two of whom were leading sessions that reinforced the focus on achieving greater impact. Continue reading

Our 9 Types of Evaluation Work – Which are Useful to You?

On a cold, rainy day in February, all seven members of TCC Group’s evaluation team came together for a retreat. With our team spread across the country, this retreat was a unique opportunity for in-person team building and reflection. Most interestingly, we completed an exercise to classify the types of work we are talking about when we say “evaluation.”

The end result? Clarity around the nine types of evaluation work we do. Continue reading

Coordinated Funding: Lessons from a Place-Based Grantmaking Collaborative

Three grantmakers in Michigan, including Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the United Way of Washtenaw County, and the Joint Office of Community and Economic Development, recently coordinated the leadership and funding of the region’s human service programs in order to maximize community impact. During TCC Group’s evaluation of the initiative, we identified several community assets and early successes that Continue reading

A New Approach to Capacity Building

“What you see is what you get.” This phrase is often used to describe a person who is very straightforward, but it can have another meaning – what you are able to see, what you choose to notice, affects what you can accomplish.

TCC’s Directors make a fundamental distinction between capacity (skills, knowledge and relationships) and capacity building (the process of cultivating those skills, knowledge and relationships), and map out the evolution of capacity building over the last few decades. The “end-result” is Continue reading

10 Key Factors to Help Funders Thrive

In 2004, TCC Group published a briefing paper entitled, “Ten Keys to Successful Strategic Planning for Nonprofit and Foundation Leaders.” The philanthropic landscape has continued to evolve since then, and TCC has benefited from ten years of additional work designing and facilitating funder planning projects.

Drawing on our client work in the intervening decade, TCC Group staff have identified important key factors that help foundations overcome unique challenges, provide strategic clarity, and chart a successful path forward. In our latest briefing paper, “Ten Keys – Ten Years Later: Successful Strategic Planning for Foundation Leaders,” we discuss 10 factors that Continue reading