Need practical how-to info that aims to help you build your evaluation capacity? This collection includes suggested readings from our friends at BetterEvaluation, the Center for Evaluation Innovation, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations as well as hand-picked content by Candid. Thousands of actual evaluations are  available for download.

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Race, Place and Power: Learnings from the Ford Foundation’s Just Cities and Regions Program

April 28, 2022

Housing insecurity is a challenge affecting the lives of far too many in the United States. After decades of work in the housing sector, we formalized the Just Cities and Regions (JCR) program in 2015 amidst a moment of growing racial and income inequality, increasing housing insecurity, and an accelerating climate crisis with disparate impacts. The strategy shifted from one based in 10 metro regions to one that aimed to bring about more systemic change across the country.JCR worked to integrate distinct dimensions necessary to winning change at scale by:Building community- and people-centered grassroots power through integrated civic engagement strategiesGrounding those strategies in the leadership and vision of communities disproportionately impacted, anchored by an ecosystem of strong, networked social movement infrastructureFocusing on creating systems-level interventions rather than public policy reform or near-term "fixes"Supporting relationship-based and long-term co-governance by communities and those in public leadership rolesWe sunset the JCR program at the end of 2021. In this reflection, we share our lessons throughout our history of investment.

Transactions, Transformations, Translations: Metrics that Matter for Building, Scaling, and Funding Social Movements

October 25, 2011

This report provides an evaluative framework and key milestones to gauge movement building. Aiming to bridge the gap between the field of community organizing that relies on the one-on-one epiphanies of leaders and the growing philanthropic emphasis on evidence-based giving, the report stresses three main insights. The first is that any good set of movement metrics should capture quantity and quality, numbers and nuance, transactions and transformations. They are related -- an energized leader with a clear power analysis (a transformative measure) may turn out more members for a coalition rally (a transactional measure) -- and the report offers a matrix that weaves together both types of metrics across ten different movement-building strategies. The second is that a movement is more than one organization -- and if the whole is to be greater than the sum of its parts, we must measure accordingly. While report includes measures of success at the organizational level, it attempts to move beyond and focus on whether groups can align and work together to create a more powerful force for social change -- suggesting that in the same way that movements need to scale up to face the challenges of our times, metrics, too, must expand to capture the whole. The third is that metrics must be co-created, not imposed. Recognizing the gravity of the times and hoping to gauge their effectiveness, movement builders are eager to come up with a common language and framework for themselves -- and are developing the tools and capacities to do so. The report suggests that the funder-grantee relationship can build on this wisdom in the field and develop a set of evaluative measures that are not onerous requirements but tools for mutual accountability. The report also offers a set of recommendations to funders and the field, ranging from practical steps (like building a new toolbox of measures, improving the capacity to use them, and documenting innovation and experimentation) to more far-reaching suggestions about leadership development, the connection of policy outcomes with broader social change, and the need to generate movement-level measures. We, at USC PERE, hope this report contributes to a conversation about how to best capture transformations as well as transactions in social movement organizing, and how to build the broader public and philanthropic support necessary to realize the promise of a more inclusive America.

Tools and Frameworks

Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose: Challenges and Opportunities in Grant Application and Reporting

April 1, 2008

Are nonprofits drowning in paperwork and distracted from purpose as a result of grantmakers' application and reporting requirements? Do the same practices that grantmakers use to increase effectiveness end up over-burdening both grantmakers and grantseekers—and diminishing their effectiveness? This research report commissioned by Project Streamline addresses these questions by examining current application and reporting practices and their impact on grantmakers and grantseekers alike. In short, we found that the current system creates significant burdens on the time, energy and ultimate effectiveness of nonprofit practitioners.