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Evaluation & Selection

A Decade of Outcome-Oriented Philanthropy
The outgoing president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Paul Brest, reflects on the growing importance of strategic philanthropy over the last decade and its prospects for the future. Brest discusses approaches to outcome-oriented philanthropy where donors seek to achieve clearly defined goals; where they and their grantees pursue evidence-based strategies for achieving those goals; and where both parties monitor progress toward outcomes and assess their success in achieving them in order to make appropriate course corrections.

A Framework for Determining Advocacy Capacity
The California Endowment has funded this paper published by the TCC Group to provide frameworks and methodologies that meaningfully evaluate policy change efforts. As advocacy becomes increasingly widespread as a strategy in nonprofits, foundations are looking to fund more of this type of work; nonprofits are learning how to harness its power to achieve their mission; and both are trying to better understand how to evaluate success. The purpose of this paper, drawing on a variety of sources, is to look at the context for policy and advocacy work and the distinctive characteristics of such work, outlining a model for evaluating organizational capacity and describing how this is adapted for advocacy organizations.

AfterZone: Outcomes for Youth Participating in Providence’s Citywide After-School System
This report presents findings from a three-year quasi-experimental evaluation of the AfterZone—a citywide system-building effort in Providence, RI, that aims to provide high-quality, accessible out-of-school-time services to middle school youth. The AfterZone model is unique in that it is built on a network of "neighborhood campuses" anchored by one or two middle schools. The report summarizes the patterns of youth participation in the AfterZone during the two-year period (in terms of amount, breadth and engagement); examines the benefits youth experience from participating after one and two school years; and presents implications for funders, policymakers and program leaders interested in implementing their own citywide out-of-school-time system.

Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact
Many social enterprises focus on measuring the success of individual grants and nonprofit initiatives. This traditional approach to measuring results neglects the reality that no single organization alone can solve the scale of today's social challenges. This research highlights 20 social enterprises that developed innovative and coordinated web-based approaches to evaluate their impact across multiple grants and stakeholders.

But Does It Work? How Best to Assess Program Performance
There have been significant advances in the development of effective reporting systems that can track the effectiveness of programs; however, many fall short of what is considered scientifically valid evidence of effectiveness. This article reports on the work done by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation which measures programs at three levels of effectiveness: “apparent,” “demonstrated,” and “proven.” By employing these performance assessments, donors can better fund programs that truly work.

Capturing the Essential Elements
When a program with demonstrated effectiveness is expanded, knowing how it works and why it works the way it does is an indispensable first step in preserving its quality. This report draws on P/PV's experience with different programs to show how to define a model's essential elements to increase the chances of successful replication. It contains lessons for program developers, funders and practitioners interested in adopting model programs.

Case Study: Preparing for a Pay for Success Opportunity
Third Sector Capital Partners, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, has published a case study on its experience working with Roca, Inc. on their successful response to Massachusetts’ Social Innovation Financing project for juvenile justice. The case discusses the challenges, lessons learned, and process of launching the nation’s first state-level Pay for Success contract.

Cash Value: How The Financial Clinic Puts Money into the Pockets of Working-Poor Families
How does one track the monetary quantification--"cash value"--of financial development services? The Clinic explores how its valuation of financial development strategies for the working-poor illustrates successful movement along their tractories and closer to achieving financial security.

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work
This article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review provides a deep analysis of collective impact. Three conditions must be in place before launching a collective impact initiative: an influential champion, adequate financial resources, and a sense of urgency for change. Together, these preconditions create the opportunity and motivation necessary to bring people who have never before worked together into a collective impact initiative and hold them in place until the initiative’s own momentum takes over. This article provides examples of collective impact, how to bring it to life, and how to measure its impact.

Community-Service Group Develops a Guidebook to Manage Growth
This article discusses the approach that City Year, a Youth service corps, takes when deciding to expand its program into another city. The organization developed a list of criteria each site must meet to ensure that it is "operationally sound and sustainable."

Consumer Voices for Coverage: Advocacy Evaluation Toolkit
In 2011, Mathematica Policy Research completed its evaluation of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program called Consumer Voices for Coverage, which advocated for expanded health insurance coverage. This Advocacy Evaluation Toolkit is a product of the evaluation and is intended to help grantees and other advocacy organizations collect and analyze data using instruments and methods used by Mathematica in its evaluation. The Toolkit is also designed to inform people who might not be familiar with evaluation procedures and methods on how to plan and conduct an evaluation.

Deeper Capacity Building for Greater Impact
With funding from the James Irvine Foundation, the TCC Group has published a paper on long-term capacity-building (LTCB) initiatives. It provides tangible examples of design options, best practices, and common challenges of LTCB initiatives. The purpose of the paper is to stimulate thinking within private foundations, corporate community involvement departments, and public agencies about capacity building and inform decision-making in designing and managing any LTCB initiative.

Divining a Vision for Markets for Good
This article, which was published in Alliance Management magazine, argues that social entrepreneurship will continue to face challenges in promoting more intelligent, proactive and generous philanthropy via the Internet unless new strategies are invoked to remove impediments to progress. Buzz Schmidt revisits early initiatives that attempted to facilitate more generous and intelligent philanthropy from the past 15 years. He proposes an alternative vision for the philanthropy ecosystem and stresses the need for social entrepreneurs to pursue opportunities for coordinated or collective action across the ecosystem.

Expanding the Impact of Grantees: How Do We Build the Capacity of Nonprofits to Evaluate, Learn and Improve?
High-performing organizations seek and use data and feedback to continually assess and improve their work. This paper explores how grantmakers can effectively support grantee efforts to strengthen evaluation and learning capacity.

Getting Replication Right: The Decisions That Matter Most to Organizations Looking to Expand
By surveying a number of nonprofit leaders who have successfully grown their organizations through replication, coupled with Bridgespan’s own experience in the field, this article outlines the key decisions that need to be made in order to carry out a successful replication.

Good Stories Aren't Enough: Becoming Outcomes-Driven in Workforce Development
Workforce development organizations are more and more focused on achieving and documenting performance outcomes; yet managers frequently face a challenge getting buy-in from frontline staff about collecting and using data—not only to satisfy funders' needs but to improve services. Good Stories Aren't Enough looks at the experience and learnings of six organizations as they focused on becoming more outcomes-driven. It identifies practical, hands-on strategies to increase staff involvement and communication around data, so that what at first seems like impersonal information becomes a useful tool to better meet job seekers' and employers' needs.

How Do We Approach Impact and Evaluation in the Context of Scale?
A growing number of grantmakers are working with stakeholders to use evaluation as a learning practice to strengthen grantee programs and organizations. This briefing paper explores the role evaluation can play not only in identifying whether something works — and if so, why and how — but also in assessing readiness for, planning and implementing approaches to scaling social impact. The paper also provides a framework and questions for grantmakers to consider when integrating evaluation into efforts to grow impact and facilitate learning across organizations.

How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Results by Funding Policy and Community Engagement
The paper assesses the impact of foundation-funded policy advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement. It explains how these strategies create stronger communities and why they are successful. It provides a profile of grantmakers who currently fund these types of strategies, and offers suggestions for other funders. The full series of studies and a database of policy wins is available at

If Gordon Gekko Had a Good Heart, This Is How He Might Have Done It
Describes how Wall Street executives who want to be involved in philanthropy during their working lives are helping promising nonprofits raise growth capital more efficiently.

Innovations in Measurement and Evaluation
The philanthropic sector has a compelling opportunity to advance the base of evidence of social change interventions that generate measurable impact. An evolving field of practice, measurement and evaluation (M&E) has the potential to uncover critical information about the efficacy of various social change strategies and to catalyze the expansion and replication of organizations and initiatives with proven social benefit.

Interview - Paul Brest, Jed Emerson, Katherina Rosqueta, Brian Trelstad, Michael Weinstein
Alliance Magazine interviewed the representatives of several foundations to discuss how they each assess the impact of their funding. These comments are a follow up to a study commissioned by the Gates Foundation whose findings were published in a paper entitled Measuring and/or Estimating Social Value Creation, written by Melinda Tuan.

Laying a Solid Foundation: Strategies for Effective Program Replication
This report is a synthesis of P/PV's 30 years of experience designing, testing and replicating a variety of social programs. It was designed as a guide for policymakers, practitioners and philanthropists who are interested in a systematic approach to program replication. It clearly lays out the key structures that should be in place before wide-scale replication is considered, as well as the steps needed to ensure the replication's success. With details on when in a program's life to replicate, where the replication should take place, and the staff resources needed, Laying a Solid Foundation can help capitalize on proven programs' successes.

Learning from Performance Measurement, Investing in What Works
Findings from the Social Innovation Forum’s year-long pilot “Key Measures” process where six 2008 Social Innovators articulate their two-year goals and the investment required to achieve those goals. In addition, they define a limited set of key measures with attached targets. The data from this “Key Measures” process serves as a valuable tool for both innovators and investors. By analyzing their performance on a variety of metrics, organizations can make adjustments to improve their work, and investors can make informed decisions on how best to invest – and re-invest – their resources for maximum social impact.

Making Change: How Social Movements Work and How to Support Them
In recent years, there has been a renewed philanthropic interest and openness to investing in social movements and policy change. This document, which is published by University of Southern California with funding by The California Endowment, seeks to provide a guidepost to this interest by detailing what makes for a successful social movement, what capacities need to be developed, and what funding opportunities might exist.

McKinsey & Company's Self-Assessment Grid
Designed to help nonprofit organizations assess their organizational capacity, this grid is to be used in conjunction with the Capacity Framework, which explains the seven elements of organizational capacity and their components.

Measuring and/or Estimating Social Value Creation: Insights into Eight Intergrated Cost Approaches
Describes eight approaches to integrating cost into measuring and/or estimating social value creation. The purpose is to present some fresh possibilities for thinking about the cost-benefit of philanthropic investments thereby bringing a new level of rigor and creativity to the measurement or estimation of social value.

Measuring What Matters in Nonprofits [requires purchase]
Although nonprofits will never resemble businesses that can measure their success in purely economic terms, there are several pragmatic approaches to quantifying the real success of an organization in achieving its mission.

Money for Good II: Driving Dollars to the Highest-Peforming Nonprofits
The Money for Good II study is the follow-up to initial research done by Hope Consulting and GuideStar in 2010 about preferences and motivations for charitable giving. In this November 2011 report, the authors expand the scope of research to include foundations and those who advise donors to get a deeper understanding of how to influence giving behaviors. The reports finds that it is possible to influence about 5 percent of donations each year towards the highest-performing nonprofits, which can lead to a shift in $15 billion in charitable donations.

Money to Grow On
Discusses the need for donors to provide funding for growth capital to help the best nonprofits grow to reach their full potential. It then provides some guidelines for donors to assist them in performing their due diligence.

Opinion: "Performance Measurement: Put a Stake in the Ground"
Andrew Wolk describes the importance of nonprofit performance measurement and measuring social impact work beyond financial statements.

Performance Dashboards:  Speedometer and Odometer for Social Enterprise
Presentation of the basics of performance dashboards: What are dashboards and why are they useful? How are nonprofit and for-profit dashboards different? Who looks at a dashboard?

Program Evaluation Practice in the Nonprofit Sector
Discussion of various evaluation approaches and methods that nonprofit organizations must choose to assess their effectiveness, demonstrate their value to the community, and provide useful and usable information to meet the demands of funders and the public.

Public Allies: Building the Infrastructure for Growth
Strong support from AmeriCorps, fees from organizations who sponsor "Allies" and clearly documented program results have propelled Public Allies' growth. Over the years, Public Allies has worked hard to find the appropriate level of control and decentralization with its branches, and the organization recently decided to migrate all of its sites to a licensee model in which organizations or universities manage local programs, relieving some of the administrative and financial burden on local sites. Public Allies also is planning future growth with a new, lower cost model and a more targeted approach to site development.

Scaling Your Social Venture: Becoming an Impact Entrepreneur
When should a social entrepreneurial venture scale? What should they try to understand about the ecosystem in which they operate? What steps can be taken to assess the organization's unique situation and determine the most effective scaling strategies? Bloom outlines the SCALERS model for building an organization's capacity to scale.

Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building
This report published by The Foundation Review identifies five core elements to movement building: organizing an authentic base; leadership; vision and ideas; alliances; and advocacy infrastructure. Because a funder's role should focus on supporting movement building, it should, likewise, focus on outcomes and benchmarks related to progress associated with developing the five core components of movement building.

The Essential Connection: Using Evaluation to Identify Programs Worth Replicating
This publication describes how to use practical evaluation methods to identify social programs that are both effective and capable of being successfully transferred to new settings. It also provides guidance in making sound decisions about the suitability of investing time and money in program expansion.

The Fulfillment Fund: Managing Programmatic Growth
Over the years, the Los Angeles-based Fulfillment Fund has received extensive support from individual donors, frequently relying on relationships with locally-based major studios and celebrities. This case study describes how the organization initially grew by adding programs to address students’ unmet needs and subsequently decided to double the number of students it served. It is an analysis of the consequences of these changes, unexpected management challenges, and new performance management strategy to satisfy a new base of funders.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook
This handbook provides a framework for thinking about evaluation as a relevant and useful program tool. It is written primarily for project directors who have direct responsibility for the ongoing evaluation of W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded projects. However, the hope is that project directors will use this handbook as a resource for other project staff who have evaluation responsibilities, for external evaluators, and for board members.

youthCONNECT: A (Net)work in Progress
Venture Philanthropy Partners launched the youthCONNECT, which combines federal funding, philanthropic resources, and the experience of six of the highest performing nonprofit service providers to improve education, employment, and healthy behavior outcomes for low-income and at-risk youth. A key component of youthCONNECT has been the development of a shared framework for monitoring outcomes. This case study describes VPP's collaborative process with College Summit, KIPP DC, Latin American Youth Center, Metro TeenAIDS, Urban Alliance, and Year Up NCR.