You may be hearing terms like systems change, collective impact, and multi-sectoral initiatives a lot these days to describe situations where multiple actors are working together to tackle complex social problems. If you’re working or considering working within one of these types of initiatives, it’s critical to first recognize the complexity of the system (or set of interconnected parts) you’re working with and to think about what success would look like within that system. Although systems are complex, systems thinking – and the corresponding evaluation design – can be broken down into three essential elements : Continue reading
What can we do to effectively evaluate progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This was one of the principal questions asked at the recent conference hosted in Guanajuato, Mexico by three international evaluation associations: the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), the Latin American and Caribbean Monitoring, Evaluation, and Systematization Network (ReLAC), and the Latin American and Caribbean Monitoring and Evaluation Network (REDLACME).
Throughout the three-day conference, which brought together approximately 500 evaluators and evaluation commissioners from 47 different countries, I gathered seven recurring themes posed as answers to this one question. Continue reading
Media campaigns are intended to affect their audiences – such as convincing people not to text and drive, or persuading people to purchase a product or vote for a particular candidate. There are various touchpoints where media can help lead an audience from awareness to action on an issue. Being able to track these touchpoints – and the audiences engaged – enables organizations and media distributors to more efficiently and effectively test their content as well as intelligently move audiences from awareness to action at a faster, more effective rate. Continue reading
Without legal advocacy, many norms and rights that people rely on, may have never been established. School desegregation (argued through Brown v. Board of Education), gay marriage (argued through many cases, but before the Supreme Court as Obergefell v. Hodges), clean water and air (argued at both state and federal levels as a myriad of lawsuits) – all were established as part of a legal advocacy strategy. Continue reading
A few years ago I was introduced to my now favorite TED Talk: Derek Sivers on “How to start a movement.” In two minutes he explains how a movement starts using some amusing footage of a spontaneous dance group. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth the break. What captivated me was his conclusion—and it wasn’t about the leader.
Rightly, much has been made of the importance of leadership—be it in business, government, nonprofits, or online. In the nonprofit sector, starting with the dooms-day scenario of mass baby-boom retirements that was the rage in the early 2000’s, through today’s steady drumbeat of leadership training and development, leadership is on the minds of philanthropic sector professionals. Continue reading
In mid-July of this year, I had the opportunity to attend the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers conference (#ForumCon17) in San Francisco. This conference brings together a large swath of the organizations that provide networking and support functions to foundations across the United States.
I wanted to share some of my takeaways from time at the conference—some of which relate specifically to the conference and some to the valuable side conversations that happen when you bring smart, passionate people together. Continue reading
Since the 2016 election, my colleagues and I have noticed one of two things: more funders considering a first-time investment in advocacy, or funders strengthening their existing commitment to fund advocacy work. In response to this surge of activity, we’ve had the opportunity to share our findings – regarding effective strategies to support advocacy campaigns – with different groups of funders. These engaging and deliberate conversations generated additional questions – from which we’ll highlight three: Continue reading
Given the political landscape and increased media coverage around issues of discrimination, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become all the more prevalent in the social sector. This isn’t to say that DEI hasn’t been important in years past—it has. The main difference now is that more organizations in the social sector are holding themselves and being held accountable to exhibiting their practice of DEI principles.
As an evaluator, I have seen varying levels of commitment to using principles of DEI and acknowledge that it is not always an easy or straightforward endeavor. Here are a few clarifying points on how I frame thinking about DEI and some guiding questions to discuss when thinking about incorporating DEI in your work: Continue reading
The work you do in the social sector is likely unique in its mission and programs. As unique as it is, social sector organizations like yours share the common goal to “move the needle.” They may work towards improving conditions for local youth or inspiring local creativity by supporting the community arts scene. No matter your mission, it is important to ensure your activities are clearly aligned with your ultimate social impact goals. To that end, we have produced three videos that Continue reading
Why are funding organizations looking more and more toward media as a valuable method to affect social change?
Because it has been shown to work.
There are four key stages in the use of media. These stages include design, development, distribution and reflection. In this piece, we discuss the importance of design and the impact evaluation can have in this stage in creating a successful campaign, and subsequently detail the process. Continue reading