Responding to the Call: How to Pursue Legal Advocacy

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

The Age of the Strategic Follower

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

What Can Associations of Grantmakers Teach You?

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

Three Common Questions about Funding Advocacy

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

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

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

Illustrate Your Impact Goals with Logic Model Heat Mapping

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

Be SMART: Designing Effective Media Campaigns (Stage 1)

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

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

4 Tips for Culturally Responsive Programming

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve always had an inherent appreciation for diversity – yet my training and work in the evaluation space has fostered even greater realization that diversity is a critical component to both program design and evaluation. Continue reading

4 Key Stages for Measuring Your Media Outcomes

What can media accomplish? What can it affect? These are questions funders often ask. Restating those questions from an evaluation perspective translates to: how can one measure the impact of media? To understand how to measure media, we must first understand the strategy behind media.

Media:

  • Draws attention to issues.
  • Improves understanding of issues and possible solutions.
  • Inspires people to care.
  • Motivates people to do something.
  • Connects people with solutions.

I previously spoke to these, diagramming the flow of media effect, where people move through various different states from awareness to action. Looking at the model, it is easyMedia Affecting Change Flow Chart to think that one piece of content can affect change.
However, it is rare that just one exposure to one piece of content affects change; rather it is the sum of multiple experiences – a subset of which is content. Savvy media professionals take into account the environmental factors in the development and distribution of their content, building on what is available, constructing multiple pieces of content for distribution, and developing a campaign for that distribution to affect their target audiences.

During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Continue reading