TCC Group https://www.tccgrp.com/ Solutions for Social Impact Wed, 30 Nov 2022 18:43:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.tccgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cropped-tcc-favicon-32x32.png TCC Group https://www.tccgrp.com/ 32 32 New Questions for Advocacy Evaluators https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/new-questions-for-advocacy-evaluators/ Tue, 29 Nov 2022 17:48:52 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5331 As we’ve been sharing recently, TCC Group conducted three research studies over the last year about good practices for supporting or conducting advocacy in modern times. These pieces focused on understanding how funders can best support advocacy coalitions, how funders can best support grassroots organizations, and the best ways to work towards durable policy wins. … Continued

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As we’ve been sharing recently, TCC Group conducted three research studies over the last year about good practices for supporting or conducting advocacy in modern times. These pieces focused on understanding how funders can best support advocacy coalitions, how funders can best support grassroots organizations, and the best ways to work towards durable policy wins.

We found, as a team with a history of engaging in advocacy evaluations, that the research findings were influencing our own approach to advocacy evaluation. In particular, we found the material to suggest some different questions that we could be asking in our advocacy evaluations to ensure they are taking into account how advocates are doing their work in a values-driven and fast changing environment.

The graphic below shares a brief summary of the research studies and the resulting questions they have led us to ask.

We’d be curious to hear from others evaluating this work or funding evaluations of this work. What new questions have you found valuable to ask in your advocacy evaluations? Let us know here!

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Funding Health Advocacy in Turbulent Times: Three Practices to Adopt https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/funding-health-advocacy-in-turbulent-times-three-practices-to-adopt/ Tue, 29 Nov 2022 18:13:16 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5328 Introduction Effective health advocacy is not an easy endeavor, but when executed correctly, the results can be game-changing. Health advocates, whether operating through organizations, coalitions, campaigns, or movements, are accustomed to spending long periods of time with no outwardly visible activity or tangible progress, followed by an immediate sense of urgency and action to seize … Continued

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Introduction

Effective health advocacy is not an easy endeavor, but when executed correctly, the results can be game-changing. Health advocates, whether operating through organizations, coalitions, campaigns, or movements, are accustomed to spending long periods of time with no outwardly visible activity or tangible progress, followed by an immediate sense of urgency and action to seize a window of opportunity. In many ways COVID-19 was one of those windows with phrases like health disparities becoming crystal clear to many.

TCC Group, a consulting firm dedicated to collaborating with foundations, nonprofits, and companies to solve complex social problems, has deep experience supporting advocacy efforts for funders focused on health and other issues, including working with advocates to build their advocacy strategies and capacity, advocacy evaluation, and research related to more effective advocacy practices.

In the last few years, we’ve found our advocacy evaluations are becoming even more complex. Change is happening in less predictable ways and many dynamics, including an emphasis on power, racial justice, equity, and values-led work, are changing how advocates are working. This is certainly true in the field of health advocacy as health equity has increasingly become the framework many advocates use, and more and more issues move from a nonpartisan to a partisan arena.

In 2021, we conducted three research projects for three different clients with the goal of helping funders and advocates better understand ways to improve and sustain effectiveness.  The research confirmed the complexity of the changes and affirmed that there is no magical solution – while also uncovering practical ways that funders can be better partners to advocacy organizations.

Each project was grounded by a main question:

  1. How can funders most effectively support advocacy coalitions?
  2. How can funders most effectively support grassroots advocacy organizations?
  3. How can funders help support policy durability to ensure policies can last over time?

In this blog we’re sharing some key takeaways from the research for health funders; we encourage those interested to also read the full reports.

Effective Support of Advocacy Coalitions

Key Takeaway

For many, the default assumption is that alignment on policy goals matters most to an effective coalition.  Our research found this was not the case. Rather, coalitions that spend more time and effort up front to ensure they have clear alignment on values were likely to be more adaptive, effective, and sustained.  By having formal practices in place to move through conflict and with clarity on the reason for the policy fight defined in advance, it is more likely that the coalitions would stay banded together and have the much-needed trust already in place when a window of opportunity opens.

One practice to try

Funders supporting coalitions should ensure that there is values-alignment firmly in place. Rather than dictating what the values are, funders can assess how transparent the coalitions are about their guiding values and how they use values to navigate differences. One coalition we’ve seen do this especially well has new members sign a statement of values and conflict resolution, which is then reiterated at each major decision-making meeting. While members do not always agree, they are committed to the process.  If a coalition does not have clarity on their values alignment, funders can support the deep work that it takes to build such alignment.  It may not be the flashiest thing to fund, but its impact is foundational and can lead to longer-term sustainability.

Effective Support of Grassroots Advocacy Organizations

Key Takeaway

Advocacy campaigns like to have grassroots organizations on board because they show a level of support and are assumed to imply “sign-off” from communities that could be affected by policy changes.  However, the campaigns often have governance structures that prevent grassroots organizations from having meaningful input into strategies and goals, leading these organizations to feel they are at the table in a nominal way, and are generally not fully resourced to participate. This is often because they have less capacity (e.g., staff time), and sometimes because campaigns are dominated by grasstops and traditional advocacy voices. Funders are sometimes complicit in allowing this to happen by assuming that the larger organizations have effectively engaged grassroots organizations and/or are supporting the work through the larger organizations.

One practice to try

Provide resources directly to grassroots advocacy organizations so that they can participate fully in the campaign work.  This includes funding all the time they need to engage in meetings fully, but also time that is often less accounted for such as time for networking, building relationships, and follow-up on requests.  Funders can also help build the credibility and reputation of grassroots advocates on a certain issue by funding them to foundational campaign work such as participatory action research to better understand the community’s viewpoint on policy issues.

Effective Support towards Policy Durability

Key Takeaway

Advocacy funders sometimes view a policy win as the first and most important step.  Our research found that policy that is sustained long enough to have a positive effect (durable policy) requires work before, during, and after the traditional active policy advocacy window.  For example, after the policy change in Philadelphia’s home rule charter that required efforts to establish a medical home for all Philadelphians, it took years before it had a clear plan in place.  One of the most crucial advocacy transitions happens between policy passage and the switch to implementation, but foundations often show less interest in supporting this period.  However, advocates find these years of funding essential to enacting a sustained and robust policy that is not watered down or reversed.

One practice to try

Fund post-implementation support to give advocates resources they need to prove the effectiveness of a passed policy. This can include funding advocates to engage in “watchdog” activities where they can track and report on how the policy is being implemented or supporting research reports that show how the policy is achieving the desired health benefit.

Conclusion

Health advocacy funders have adapted their work over the last few years to respond to emerging trends, including a more polarized landscape and a greater emphasis on values like health equity. The research discussed in this post can increase the precision of support offered by advocacy funders, whether they be supporting coalitions, engaging grassroots advocates, or seeking to ensure that the policies they help support have the durability for success.  If you have insights or comments about the contents of this blog, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email at dsood@tccgrp.com, and you can check out our full suite of advocacy research at tccgrp.com/advocacyresearch.

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Re-Shaping Evaluation in Today’s World https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/re-shaping-evaluation-in-todays-world/ Mon, 21 Nov 2022 18:20:08 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5309 We, as evaluators, have a responsibility to “to help transform the systems, policies, and practices that have created today’s challenges, and help build toward a more equitable, sustainable future.” This was the overarching message at last week’s American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference. The conference focused on three significant shifts that are currently influencing the social … Continued

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We, as evaluators, have a responsibility to “to help transform the systems, policies, and practices that have created today’s challenges, and help build toward a more equitable, sustainable future.” This was the overarching message at last week’s American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference. The conference focused on three significant shifts that are currently influencing the social sector and our evaluation practices:

    1. Equity, social justice, and decolonization – asking ourselves how we can bring a deeper understanding of systemic oppression to our work and looking at our own positionality and where power may need to shift. 
    2. New actors and social finance – new forms of financing social change work are bringing new actors that are or could be commissioning evaluation. 
    3. Digital data and methodology – as technology continues to evolve, we must be aware of new data sources, data types, and data tools and how to use them responsibly. 

Our team was fortunate to have many opportunities to share what we’re doing and learning, alongside our clients.  From poster presentations to leading sessions, covering topics like advocacy, localization, and leadership development, we came away energized by the many ideas exchanged with our peers on these three themes.

So, in order to continue the learning cycle, as well as hold ourselves accountable to how we will use these learnings, we are sharing some of our reflections from the conference. 

1. Equity, social justice, and decolonization 

Lisa Frantzen:

In order to achieve social impact, local actors must be involved from the beginning. This means not waiting until the data collection phase and extracting data from them for our own uses. Those most affected by the issue being addressed need to be involved, even leading, the needs assessment and program design phases. As outsiders we cannot fully understand the contexts of all communities and therefore cannot completely understand what the solutions are nor how to interpret progress towards our desired outcomes. We need to question the current frame and ways of doing things. The chosen interventions and the lines of inquiry covered in the evaluation need to be community-centered. This is the only way we will get to impact. 

As evaluators, this can be hard to influence, particularly if we are not brought in during the program design phase. In our work with Girls First Fund (a donor collaborative supporting community-led initiatives to end child marriage) we built on a year-long community engagement process that they had undertaken in each of the countries in which they work to understand the specific barriers each community faced in supporting girls rights and ending child marriage and to define what relevant interventions would look like. Similarly, we built an evaluation framework that allowed flexibility for each of the communities to define what success looked like and which outcomes were realistic in the short vs. long-term. Involving local actors throughout the evaluation is something we have been thinking about a lot and are sharing our thoughts in this blog series

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Slow down the timeline. We need to both recognize the urgency for addressing the problems while also keeping our expectations realistic for achieving community and systems-level changes. Social change takes time yet so many of our philanthropic processes are set up to report immediate results, end funding promptly, and rush the timelines for beginning the work. In order to do the work in a way that creates sustainable change, local actors must be involved (see above) and it takes time to build understanding and trust. 

In a project that we led with Presence Health (now AMITA Health) we mapped out a series of logic models to reflect their various approaches to health equity work across communities. Then, working with representatives from each community, we heat-mapped the logic models to more accurately reflect the interventions prioritized by each community and which outcomes and timeframes were relevant for their particular contexts. 

We need to stop thinking in terms of us vs. them and think about how we collectively bring together our different pieces of knowledge to create social change. As outsiders to a community, we need to think about how we bring our skills in service to a community’s agenda and re-conceptualize our definition of rigor in our evaluation methods. Achieving true social change requires us to center peoples’ lived experiences as indicators of change. We need to add to the importance we place on being rigorous in our evaluation methods the importance of effective community engagement

2. New actors and social finance 

Deepti Sood: 

The ability to meet people where they are remains crucial. Several sessions and talks focused on social finance  – financial sources that are focused on advancing social impact – mentioned how mission measurement in these spaces is very standardized, due to the history of how financial measurement happens. Evaluators moving into this space will need to explain why mixed-methods and customized evaluation approaches have some benefit towards overall impact measurement. Our team will be putting these skills into use this year as we work with a Southern foundation to evaluate a capital-access program and unpack what impact greater capital can have on women and entrepreneurs of color. While they have analyzed financial data using quantitative methods in the past, they haven’t yet engaged in any more qualitative or narrative measures of change, so our work will aim to lift up both in our approach to evaluating impact.  

New questions will emerge with this scaling of evaluation. Dollar figures in the trillions were mentioned as a representation of the field of social finance – a huge arena that can literally impact the world and where opportunities abound for evaluators to bring rigor, values, accountability, and learning. After the social finance sessions I attended my brain was swimming with questions. How can evaluators move the field towards decolonizing evaluation and moving into capital markets? Where will evaluators fall on impact measurement related to problematic actors? How will we stay true to our own personal, organizational, and field values and also make space for building trust and relationships with new actors? How will we balance creating buy-in from these new actors with accountability? I’m looking forward to further refining the questions and starting to seek out some answers. 

Charles Gasper:

The concept of an evaluator as a critical friend is changing. New actors are coming into the world of social sector programming and evaluation, including groups such as data scientists and social financiers. Additionally, the predominant methods of evaluation and knowing are being questioned. While we have been “here” as evaluators before, things are a bit different now. As a young evaluator in the 1990’s, I recall the conflict of quantitative versus qualitative methods – both systems of knowing, but also both camps indicating that the other’s methods were wrong. Through extremely lively negotiation, mixed-methods evaluation (using both quantitative and qualitative methods) became the standard for what was considered good evaluation. Similarly, as that young evaluator, I encountered the challenge of misuse of methods, seeing firsthand how misunderstanding of and subsequent misuse of a quantitative analytic method resulted in misinformation. These challenges persist with the increase in participation and contribution of new actors, who bring their own biases, their own methods, and their own needs to the table. s a result, our role as evaluators is evolving. We no longer own the space of methods. We no longer are the gatekeepers of data that we were. Instead, we are transitioning more and more to the role of advisor, ethicist, and mentor – working to facilitate the process of evaluation. We are being asked to critically review the evaluative questions, to the point of asking if the question is appropriate. We are being asked to deeply consider who is involved.

In our work with Camp Arrowhead, we were tasked with creating a theory of change for the organization. Traditionally, we have worked with a small group, often consisting of board and staff members and occasionally, where possible, a few program participants. Instead, we used a method by which all previous program participants and their parents, vendors, current and past staff, and board members were offered the opportunity to voice their thoughts around the meaningful activities and outcomes of the Camp. Our subsequent modeling of the programming then reflected all of their thoughts. This in turn provided the client with outcomes they otherwise would not have considered, enabling them to both better articulate the program’s focus on and impact on outcomes that are meaningful to participants.

3. Digital data and methodology

Stephanie Coker:

Responsible data governance is key to equitable and culturally responsive evaluation practice. Data privacy and security are topics that evaluators come across fairly often. These topics are generally approached from a technical perspective and conversations about data security can sometimes lack a connection to the human experience. One striking takeaway from a presentation on “Trends in African MERL Tech:Insights from a Landscape Scan” was about how informed consent (to share data) is also in line with African feminist thinking about ethics of data. This presentation was also markedly reminiscent of another session on “A Trauma-Informed Approach to International Research and Evaluation” because of its focus on ‘do no harm’ with research and evaluation. It was heartbreaking to hear about the recent missteps in data governance during U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan that have shaped the discourse on this topic, bringing into sharp focus how data can have real-life negative consequences. Another learning was on the need for evaluators to have more training on data regulations and work more deliberately with legal and compliance experts to safeguard data.  These takeaways align with ongoing conversations in open data and open source technology, and reflect an important shift in evaluation practice around the world.

Evidence democratization for solving complex problems is getting easier. The next generation of tools for evidence aggregation have arrived and are, surprisingly, fairly accessible to non-technical audiences. While thousands of research studies are conducted every year to determine the impact of program/intervention activities on outcomes, far fewer studies are dedicated to aggregating data for actual use by those working on the front-line to create innovative approaches for tackling societal dilemmas. Systematic review is one method for aggregating data but is often so complex and time-consuming that few social sector practitioners ever get the opportunity to practice what would otherwise be a critical step for creating new programs.Many systematic reviews also typically feature overall program effects without identifying which particular combination of strategies led to a positive outcome.  A key feature of an AEA presentation on  “Advances in Systematic Evidence Review Methods and their Implications for Democratizing Evidence” was an introduction to new tools for review that would help social sector professionals ‘become smarter – faster’. The session introduced Core Components Analysis methodology which focuses on specific aspects of interventions that comprise a program and are more applicable for practitioners seeking to improve existing programs, rather than starting from scratch. Expert panels are also an often-used method for reviewing evidence and making recommendations for practitioners based on experience. A more culturally responsive application of this method would be involving community elders or traditional knowledge holders to be part of expert panels, acknowledging that intellectual expertise comes in many forms.  These newer approaches showcase responsiveness to a general demand for actionable and inclusive practices in evaluation.

Our team is still processing and reflecting on how we can more consistently apply these concepts in the work that we do with nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies. We commit to continuing to hold the bar high in our own accountability to living our values and learning alongside the partners and communities in which we work. We hope that you find some of our reflections useful and we welcome your thoughts on how we can collectively address our changing times and create the just and equitable world in which we want to live. 

 

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Spotlight on TCC Group Changemakers: Naomi Korb Weiss https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/spotlight-on-tcc-group-changemakers-naomi-korb-weiss/ Wed, 12 Oct 2022 16:03:30 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5070 In your view, what is the value of creating space to bring people together around a shared objective? People and planning are among my favorite things, so convenings are a match made in heaven for me. My deepest work in this area is in leading our Convenings work group – a committee focused on developing … Continued

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In your view, what is the value of creating space to bring people together around a shared objective?

People and planning are among my favorite things, so convenings are a match made in heaven for me. My deepest work in this area is in leading our Convenings work group – a committee focused on developing a service around the incredible work we do designing, facilitating, and evaluating convenings. Part of what I love about this work is that while on the surface it does not closely overlap with my other day-to-day work with clients, I am always working to create space for varied stakeholder groups to influence action on a particular topic.

What innovative approaches are you bringing to your work?

Underneath the scopes and proposals and meetings are the personal dynamics at play in organizations. As projects unfold, I find it fascinating to understand the change management that needs to happen inside an organization. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what goals we develop or roadmaps we design if our clients aren’t committed to addressing interpersonal dynamics. It has been exciting to build this muscle organically with every project.

What do you think TCC does differently with our clients?

 We tailor processes and templates and make sense of the data together.  We talk to our clients constantly. When the frameworks we have don’t fit, we build new ones. It is key to make sure that the work is embedded into our clients’ culture so that our impact extends even when the work is finished.

Tell us about a project you are working on right now!

We have partnered with the Danville Regional Foundation, a health conversion capacity building-focused funder, for over 5 years. In addition to supporting their grantees with individualized coaching, we provide strategic advising to the foundation. In our latest round of advising, we partnered with the other capacity-building providers and began to chart out a pipeline to better serve and support nonprofits as they move throughout their lifecycle. One of the most exciting ideas to emerge is a ‘concierge’ service for nonprofits, which will guide them through an assessment process (CCAT and other) and support them through the messy journey of training, coaching, grant writing, and more. I’m excited to see how we can apply this concept to other regions.

Can you share an example of a time you have seen your work at TCC make an impact?

You know those projects that begin to feel like a part of your identity? That you wake up thinking about? It was really gratifying to partner with the Samis Foundation in Seattle in 2019 and chart out a bold strategic plan to deepen and diversify education in their region. To do so, they needed to shift the culture of their own foundation and board. A few months ago, they announced a groundbreaking affordability initiative (which will serve as a model for other communities across the country) and courageous plans for facilitating mergers amongst core grantees. Families in their community will now be able to access high-quality educational programs as a result of our work.

You can learn more about Naomi and her work at TCC Group here.

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Spotlight on TCC Group Changemakers: Stephanie Coker https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/spotlight-on-tcc-group-changemakers-stephanie-coker/ Wed, 12 Oct 2022 16:13:48 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5068 In your view, what is the value of creating space to bring people together around a shared objective? I think of convenings broadly as opportunities for reflection and collaboration that are often centered on – but not limited to – events held on a periodic basis. My favorite convenings are those that encourage ad-hoc collaboration … Continued

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In your view, what is the value of creating space to bring people together around a shared objective?

I think of convenings broadly as opportunities for reflection and collaboration that are often centered on – but not limited to – events held on a periodic basis. My favorite convenings are those that encourage ad-hoc collaboration or communities of practice. On the Evaluation and Learning team, we’re actively involved in many of the latter. I like to use these as opportunities to learn what has worked well or to learn more about specific topic areas, some of which have recently included ‘Human-Centered Design’ and ‘ICT4D’. I’m able to collaborate with other professionals on convening design and conference presentations, which help to amplify our collective TCC Group voice. It’s how I approach scholarship in this field, in a non-traditional and non-academic way. 

What innovative approaches are you bringing to your work?

I like to think of innovation as the capacity to cultivate and maintain a flexible attitude towards ideas. It’s also the ability to recognize when techniques that may be unfamiliar can actually enhance existing modes of work. Innovative approaches also don’t have to reinvent the wheel or be brand-new. For example, iterative design is a process that has its roots in engineering, but also has many useful applications to designing and evaluating new social projects.

 What do you think TCC Group does differently with our clients?

I think TCC’s collaborative approach is truly valued by our clients. We work very hard to make sure an evaluation design actually meets their needs. We walk through our research processes together and work collaboratively to think through implications from our findings and recommendations for work moving forward.

Tell us about a project you are working on right now!

I’m excited about my ongoing work with GitHub’s Tech for Social Good to facilitate a community of practice focused on engaging Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) professions in the open source technology space. The MERL Center is a community that develops resources about the intersection of MERL and open source, data science and human-centered design. I get to work with MERL practitioners and software developers from over 15 countries across five continents in creating and understanding new tools and resources for MERL.

Can you share an example of a time you have seen your work at TCC make an impact?

I’m currently working with the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Center for Health Equity to design an evaluation framework that is both equitable and rigorous. The Center is working to strengthen, amplify and sustain the AMA’s work to eliminate health inequities across the health ecosystem, while also addressing AMA’s past and/or persistent practices that have excluded, formally or informally, physicians based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and country of origin. It is a bold initiative and I’m more than thrilled to be able to contribute my expertise as a woman-identifying and first-generation immigrant evaluator of color.

You can learn more about Stephanie and her work at TCC Group here.

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Convening to Co-Create a Sex-Positive Narrative about HIV Centering Black Women: A Change Is Gonna Come https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/convening-to-co-create-a-sex-positive-narrative-about-hiv-centering-black-women-a-change-is-gonna-come/ Thu, 06 Oct 2022 13:59:53 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5035 A hallmark of a good convening is that it reflects the group’s culture and takes an energizing, inspiring approach that shares the aspirations of the convening itself. TCC used song titles from Black artists from across genres and generations to frame the co-creation of sessions of the inaugural Black Women’s Working Group to Reframe Risk … Continued

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A hallmark of a good convening is that it reflects the group’s culture and takes an energizing, inspiring approach that shares the aspirations of the convening itself. TCC used song titles from Black artists from across genres and generations to frame the co-creation of sessions of the inaugural Black Women’s Working Group to Reframe Risk (BWWG)—a group of 12 cisgender and transgender women living with and working in HIV convened to help chart a new narrative for HIV prevention. Let’s Talk About Sex. Feeling Good As Hell. Shout. Each song helped set the stage for the purpose of each session and connect to the group.

Formed in 2021, the BWWG helped our client, a major healthcare funder, launch a new narrative for HIV prevention, rooted in values and centering the needs and experiences of Black cisgender and transgender women. The narrative movement has reached more than 28,000 people and continues to gain momentum, and at its heart was bringing people together to create and disseminate sex- positive narratives.

Why Convene?

For years, we have worked with funders, nonprofits and community leaders to address racial/ethnic health disparities, particularly when it comes to HIV. Community advisors and partners had long emphasized the need to “reframe risk” when it comes to HIV and women, particularly in ways that would resonate for women of color. Our client invited us to design and facilitate a narrative change process that would form the foundation of a multi-year initiative and national movement to improve women of color’s access to HIV prevention and care.

To shift the narrative away from “risk,” we had to get the right people in the “room” to guide and shape the work, facilitate using multiple modalities and an authentic presence and create a space for all voices.

Who to Convene?

To ensure we could authentically and effectively serve the audience, we recommended our client focus on addressing the prevention needs of Black cisgender and transgender women instead of more broadly working to reach women of color. How come? Black women face unique stigma, threats and danger in relation to their race, gender, sexuality, sexual pleasure, motherhood and social determinants of health. Further, the disparities in HIV rates for Black cisgender and transgender women compared to other racial/ethnic groups and a historic focus on gay men when it comes to HIV has left women’s needs overlooked and ignored.

To succeed in reaching Black women, we knew that we needed to center the voices and experiences of community members. Leveraging our team’s deep history and experience working in HIV—and largely driven by the well-connected Black female community organizer with lived and professional HIV experience on the team—helped us to connect, interview potential members, and invite a final group of 12 women to join the BWWG. The inaugural BWWG were paid as consultants for their time and included women who are advocates, frontline providers, communication experts and researchers, ranging in age and geography. (See the Risk to Reasons Guide for more on the BWWG)

How to Convene?

The goal was to bring together Black women living with and working in HIV to better understand the circumstances, challenges and motivations that impact Black women’s awareness, knowledge and use of prevention and care strategies, and to create a new framework and narrative for HIV and Black women. Over eight months, we used a trauma-informed, design-thinking process to collaboratively explore problems and solutions.

Each 90-120 minute virtual session had a specific focus and objective. Topics included sex education, mass media representation, public health interventions, social determinants of health, wellness, intersectional feminism and Black womanhood. Activities took place during and outside of scheduled sessions and included readings, video viewings, polls, discussions, brainstorms, writing exercises, creative production, research and presentations—all designed to distill and clarify the barriers and opportunities related to Black women’s access and uptake of HIV prevention and care strategies. Working group members helped set goals, articulate values, craft messages and prioritize audiences and actions deemed essential to building and amplifying a more empowering narrative that reflects the diverse and complex experiences of Black women. Over the course of the sessions, we witnessed the group coalesce into champions and ambassadors committed to carrying this work forward in the long term.

What Was Created

Stories from the BWWG envisioned the world they want to see: where Black women’s multi-faceted identities are seen and respected, bodily autonomy is fostered alongside self-love and self-care, and open dialogues about sex promote freedom, pleasure and desire. The core values of these stories formed the foundation of a new paradigm for HIV prevention.

We synthesized insights and top recommendations from the co-design process into a narrative guide for broad dissemination. A community activation strategy launched in Spring 2022 supported BWWG and other leaders in reaching more than 28,000 Black women, allies and providers through workshops, presentations, cultural events and more. Starting in fall 2022, a $5M grants portfolio will fund 17 projects that reimagine HIV prevention for Black women at housing and homelessness centers, domestic violence organizations, medical training institutions, and other critical spaces.

Lessons Learned

Co-creation required time, trust, and leaning into discomfort. Sharing power and working collectively to reach decisions goes against many dominant cultural norms. Because we began this journey with the BWWG knowing we were working towards improving the HIV prevention narrative for Black women but without clarity on what the final products would be, it required the group to embrace the ambiguity of the process. Ensuring meaningful contributions from all members of the BWWG required an openness to new ideas and critiques, providing multiple pathways for contributions, and at times slowing down to be responsive when people’s lives got complicated. We also took space to address important challenges, including ongoing debates about the intersecting needs of women of cis and trans experience. Being willing to take on these conflicts and allow feelings and emotions space to occur strengthened relationships and allowed us to access depths of knowledge and feeling that landed us with a breakthrough set of insights.

Black women-owned and -led spaces were essential. Our team was intentional in balancing the presence of allies in the work who have important roles to play but are not Black women. The primary facilitator identified as a Black woman and set guidelines for how and when the voices of allies came forward in balance with those of the BWWG. We used multimodal methods of engagement that included verbal and written forms and large and small group work. This allowed the BWWG to bring more of themselves into the room, more comfortably share stories and find understanding, contribute profound solutions, and help create a movement culture that is by and for Black women. Following Black women’s leadership has also been essential to sustaining momentum and long-term engagement.

The narrative of “Reasons for HIV prevention” resonated well beyond Black women. When we introduced the Risk to Reasons Initiative to providers, youth, BIPOC and LGBTQ communities, we were struck by the magnitude and diversity of people who came forward to share how much this narrative resonated with their needs, desires, and experiences. This community response demonstrates that our approach of convening for co-creation generated genuine, empowering narrative that engaged individuals from all walks of life on an emotional level.

There is a rich range of social change that convenings can accelerate. TCC goes beyond facilitation, convening in partnership with our clients to co-create and produce results that naturally generate audience buy-in and relatable narrative. To learn more about how we can help develop and implement your next convening or narrative change work, contact us here.

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Ensuring Readiness of Your Organization for Localizing Data Design, Collection and Use https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/ensuring-readiness-of-your-organization-for-localizing-data-design-collection-and-use/ Tue, 20 Sep 2022 19:55:06 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=5024 Localization is a hot topic today amongst philanthropic and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly those engaged in international work or in cross-cultural communities within the U.S. (which, let’s face it, are most communities).  This conversation is happening as the field continues to reflect on the history and evolution of philanthropy, and explore the reasons why large … Continued

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Localization is a hot topic today amongst philanthropic and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly those engaged in international work or in cross-cultural communities within the U.S. (which, let’s face it, are most communities).  This conversation is happening as the field continues to reflect on the history and evolution of philanthropy, and explore the reasons why large amounts of effort and good intentions are not always enough to resolve the social and environmental issues that we continue to face. “Localization”- the idea that those closest to and most affected by the social issue being addressed have a critical understanding of the context and the solutions needed for that community, and should therefore be in the drivers’ seat on what approaches should be taken and how success should be measured, is one that has been gaining traction.

These articles are not meant to explore the reasons why localization is a good idea (you can read about that in the resources below). But, what I’ve observed working alongside NGOs, foundations, and companies engaged in social impact work is that even once there is buy-in to taking this approach, there is still very limited information about how to successfully implement and transition to it.

In this 3-part series, I will share reflections on several localization approaches TCC Group has tried throughout the phases of evaluation and learning: design, implementation, and disseminating and using learnings. We, like others, are still learning and refining our approach to localization and I look forward to hearing your own challenges and successes here!

Part 1: Localizing the Design of your Evaluation & Learning Framework

“What should I measure? How will I know if our efforts are successful?”- These are the first questions that I often hear organizations asking. But finding the right starting point for designing a measurement framework requires a step back to ask “Do we have consensus on what outcomes we are expecting from our work? Who has been involved in the conversations about expected outcomes? Who has not been involved but should be? Have we accounted for history, values, and context in our expectations?”

Understanding if social impact efforts are successful is very context specific (notably, this is also a principle of being ready to create social change). Several years ago, we worked with Hand in Hand International to develop an evaluation framework that would be relevant to the organization’s overarching mission, but flexible enough for various countries and contexts in which it works. (See here for a description of the approach we used.) In this approach, individual country offices were identifying the outcomes that would signify success in their own context and developing the indicators that would determine whether or not those outcomes had been achieved. They did this with support and coaching from Hand in Hand’s other country offices and their headquarters office, but they were the ones leading the charge to define what success looks like for them.

As we went through the process for different offices, differences emerged in what successful outcomes for Hand in Hand’s work looked like in the various areas of the world in which they work. As each office developed their own theories of change, they gained an understanding of varied approaches, and how success would be measured. For example, under the umbrella of Hand in Hand International’s mission of empowering women entrepreneurs to develop and build their businesses and lift their families out of poverty, Kenya used microloans while Afghanistan utilized enterprise startup kits.

I recently caught up with Dr. Ahmad Kamran Hekmati, Executive Director of Hand in Hand Afghanistan. I wanted to know whether or not that process had helped create an evaluation framework that was relevant for his team’s work, and if he had recommendations for evaluation consultants and funders that want to use a localization approach. Here are the tips that he gave me:

  • Develop a logic model or theory of change as a good base for obtaining consensus amongst team members on the desired outcomes of the work. Even when NGOs are asked to present their desired outcomes to funders or potential funders, there may not have been a structured process to develop those outcomes with the full team that will be involved in working towards them. Having an organized process to map that out helps bring in a range of perspectives from people that have different lenses into both the issue and the solutions.
  • Include co-collaboration of the indicators of success with room for adaptation when working on projects. For Dr. Hekmati’s team, the instances where the data they collected was most relevant were when they had been able to collaborate directly with their funders or other partners to develop a core set of indicators while still allowing for context-specific indicators.
  • Recognize that context is everything. Limitations in understanding context will limit ability to achieve outcomes. Dr. Hekmati talked about how crucial an understanding of the humanitarian situation is in the particular communities where work is taking place. Development projects can’t be implemented and expected to achieve the outcomes of a theory of change when the program participants or community members can’t meet basic needs such as having sufficient food for their families. He noted that incorporating humanitarian assistance into the program – such as through provisional food packages or conditional cash supports – can be an effective stepping stone to stabilizing participants and getting them on the right track to participating in a jobs creation program.
  • Use a theory of change as a launching pad to clarify program activities for staff members engaged directly in community-based work. Hand in Hand Afghanistan has implemented a process of taking the logic model or theory of change for their projects and translating that into a roadmap in the local languages for their field staff. Dr. Hekmati noted that this helps unite team members around the common goals of the project while providing them with clarity on the desired outcomes, the steps to get there, and the expected timelines. It also becomes a communication tool for sharing and getting feedback on the project goals with participants, thus involving everyone in defining what success looks like for their community.

When these steps are included, it helps build ownership by the implementing organization of their theory of change and puts them in the driver’s seat of their own evaluation and learning framework. It doesn’t preclude partnership with funders and other supporters. In fact, it can help strengthen those partnerships.

Funders may also be asking how they can support their NGO partners in further developing their organization’s capacity to design their own evaluation work. A successful example of how funders can work with their NGO partners to identify their own evaluation capacity building needs and then be supportive as they build those capacities can be found in this case study highlighting Johnson & Johnson’s Healthy Future Capacity-Building Initiative.

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series, as we move on to explore successful implementation of evaluation strategies in localization. To be notified when it is published, please contact us here.

To read more about localization visit these links.

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Ten Steps Toward Meaningful Convenings https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/ten-steps-toward-meaningful-convenings/ Thu, 08 Sep 2022 17:19:23 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=4992 Convenings have long served as an essential strategy for advancing social change. Their potential for meaningful shared exchange and powerful outcomes is significant, yet without thoughtful design, may be uneven.  At TCC Group, our approach to convenings begins by posing critical questions: How do we identify the most meaningful outcomes and how do we know … Continued

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Convenings have long served as an essential strategy for advancing social change. Their potential for meaningful shared exchange and powerful outcomes is significant, yet without thoughtful design, may be uneven.  At TCC Group, our approach to convenings begins by posing critical questions: How do we identify the most meaningful outcomes and how do we know whether we’ve achieved them? Who should be in the room? What role should different participants play? What happens after the convening? How can the outcomes inform, inspire, and animate the field?

As we collaborate with clients to plan, conduct, and evaluate convenings that are responsive to our changed world, we draw on our extensive experience and continue to refine and strengthen a rigorous, evolving approach.  We explore a client partner’s readiness, considering their purpose, positioning and power to convene; draw on our skilled facilitation approach; and use our expertise in evaluation to guide follow-up to convenings. Here we share 10 deliberate steps to ensure your next convening is powerful, equitable, and has the impact you intend.

Before: Determine Your Goals and Identify Your Audience

An essential first step is to identify a clear view of intended outcomes. By setting goals and creating an evaluation process, you can gain actionable insights. Additionally, convenings must be equitable representations of all stakeholders in the issue. Be clear on the target audience for the convening and craft a modality to make space for the full range of voices.

Ten Starter Suggestions:

      1. Form a small planning committee and engage this core group in reviewing and reflecting on convening goals.
      2. Conduct a before-action review or pre-mortem on your convening. Imagine why the convening might not succeed and identify ways to mitigate or address those factors in advance.
      3. Reach out to a core group of intended participants and ask them who should be included in the convening to make progress on stated goals. Be sure to include representation from those with lived experience and perspectives most relevant to the convening issues.

During: Consideration and Communication

Social and emotional elements require as much considered curation as content elements. When logistics and content are carefully planned and communicated, participants can feel more relaxed and focused on important work. Consciously consider cultural norms, physical and emotional needs and expectations, and be prepared to address individual issues that may arise.

      1. Build in a mechanism for real-time feedback (particularly in a multi-day convening). Try a real-time poll or a designated time for group sharing and reflection, and establish a process for clear, transparent, and helpful communication with participants throughout the process.
      2. Create a mix of break types, and be a stickler on starting after breaks when you said you were going to start.
      3. Keep language access in mind. Hire trained language contractors, translate all documents, website, social media channels, and offer live interpretation when possible.

After: Reflect, Share, and Apply Learnings

A successful convening may inspire and inform a new conversation.  Evaluating lessons learned and creating targeted programming and messaging for follow-up will help maximize impact and keep attendees engaged in the issues.

      1. Form a working group to review learnings before the next event.
      2. Create procedures for collecting ideas for future actions inspired and informed by convening conversations.
      3. Publish all talks and notes afterwards.
      4. Create programming and messaging for follow-up to maintain momentum.

To learn more about our collaborative approach and how we can help you design your next convening to achieve maximum power, contact us here.

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Convening Effectiveness Matters https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/convening-effectiveness-matters/ Mon, 29 Aug 2022 16:17:32 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=4970 The following article was originally published in Stanford Social Innovation Review. To read the article in its entirety visit SSIR with your subscription information or download a PDF. Large in-person events have been canceled around the world because of COVID-19 restrictions. Have you missed them? In retrospect, how valuable were those meetings? During the pandemic … Continued

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The following article was originally published in Stanford Social Innovation Review. To read the article in its entirety visit SSIR with your subscription information or download a PDF.

Large in-person events have been canceled around the world because of COVID-19 restrictions. Have you missed them? In retrospect, how valuable were those meetings? During the pandemic lockdowns, many of them shifted to online. Did you feel compelled to participate? If not, why not? If you participated, how clear were the events’ goals, and how effectively did they advance the issues that you most care about?

Jared Raynor, Director of Evaluation and Learning, and Rasmus Heltberg of the World Bank Group, explore these questions and how organizations can strive to make their convenings more effective. Read more…

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Spotlight on TCC Group Changemakers: Jennifer Stephens https://www.tccgrp.com/insights-resources/insights-perspectives/five-minutes-with-a-tcc-changemaker-jennifer-stephens/ Wed, 06 Jul 2022 16:26:26 +0000 https://www.tccgrp.com/?p=4837 Tell us about yourself! I’m an expert in public health and a researcher. I love doing qualitative data collection and bringing that back to people in an accessible, concise, understandable way that’s actionable. I also thrive in working with diverse teams—both in terms of expertise and cultural background—that allow us to show up as our … Continued

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Tell us about yourself!

I’m an expert in public health and a researcher. I love doing qualitative data collection and bringing that back to people in an accessible, concise, understandable way that’s actionable. I also thrive in working with diverse teams—both in terms of expertise and cultural background—that allow us to show up as our whole selves because I think our products just get better when we do that.

In fact, you’re known for an inclusive approach to relationships. Why is that important, and how does it show up in social impact work?

It shows up for me most recently in getting to lead a group of 12 Black women–cis, trans, HIV positive, HIV negative–in a series of 16 conversations that led to reframing [the term] “risk” for HIV. I intentionally showed up as me and talked about my experiences as a Black woman. I created the session themes around songs by Black artists. I was sure that my boss or my client would say, “No. This is too much. You’re going too far.” Instead, the reaction was, “I love it so much!” That reinforced that not only the way I wanted to show up is great, but that it’s celebrated at TCC.

In the same way, I appreciate the fact that so many of my colleagues at TCC show up as their authentic selves. There are times when we talk about this on a personal level and then that deepens connections that can lead to creating better work together for our clients.

How do you build institutional trust?

I wrote a whole guide about it! We talked about authenticity, honesty, about confidentiality, doing good, competent work. But then there’s this piece about fidelity and community engagement ……. it’s Pride month. But the organizations we work with celebrate Pride all year long. It’s the idea that, I’m here to show up for you all the time in the same, consistent way.

The other piece that most folks haven’t explored is about equity. In none of the academic research frameworks was equity ever in there. If you’re a hospital, it is not just about making sure you’re treating everybody equally based on race or ethnicity but also based on body size, gender, religion, etcetera. It also needs to be part of the way you treat your folks, how you hire and uplift your people, and who you have leading your organization.

What are you most excited about?

We continue to reshape our listening approach, evolving our implementation with full-on community involvement, and I am so proud to be a part of shaping that. We talk about narrative change and now I’m getting to see that narrative change in real time. Seeing that for Black women has been amazing, and I’m excited that in 2023 we’re going to do some thinking about how we reframe risk for men of color, youth, and folks who identify as trans or non-binary.

It’s work. It’s hard. There were definitely tears along the way. But when you get to see the listening results and newly crafted narratives in the field, the response of individuals, communities, media, public health and other health professionals, it’s just thrilling.

Who do you look up to?

A lot of it goes back to my aunt who passed 23 years ago and yet still she guides so much of the way I operate, the way I work, the way I show up. When faced with a difficult situation I ponder a question she sent to me: “Will you be the bigger person or the better person?” I love it because there is no one answer for every situation and it helps me weigh my choices beyond pros and cons.

You can learn more about Jen and her work at TCC Group here.

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