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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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Evaluation of Tipping Point Community’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative

March 21, 2024

In May 2017, Tipping Point Community announced a $100 million initiative to halve chronic homelessness in San Francisco in five years. Tipping Point's Chronic Homelessness Initiative (CHI) is the largest private investment to address homelessness in the city's history. Tipping Point engaged the Urban Institute to evaluate CHI's implementation and outcomes. The evaluation's primary goal is to understand CHI's overall success in helping San Francisco halve chronic homelessness and make long-term, systemic improvements that support the city's most vulnerable residents.As CHI came to an end in June 2022, this final report documents the implementation of CHI and identifies key areas of successes and lessons learned based on evaluation activities conducted between fall 2018 and fall 2023. This report also highlights the outcomes of specific strategies and programs implemented as part of CHI.

How to Build a Nonprofit Dashboard for Your Leadership Team

September 28, 2023

Nonprofits that learn and improve over time have consistent approaches to measurement. It's how they know they are making a difference, driving toward operational goals, and creating inclusive and equity-focused programs and internal cultures. They may also be asked for data by others—their boards, funders, or constituents—but measurement is first and foremost to inform their own learning. Yet, in our work, nonprofit leaders often tell us that they don't have the data they need or aren't sure how to use data to learn and ultimately make decisions that lead to continuous improvement. Good data can lead to good decisions, but nonprofit leaders sometimes fall short for a few reasons:Overwhelmed by the task. Let's face it: collecting data, particularly impact data, is hard. Some teams don't know where to start, so they don't measure much at all.Too much data. We've seen many organizations collect too much data, which leads to confusion about what actually matters. The wrong data. The data others want to see isn't always the data needed to make decisions—so leaders spend time and energy measuring unhelpful things. Lack of a "data culture." Using data to make decisions requires building organizational muscle. An organization must consistently track and review data about its most important work and make decisions based on that data.A nonprofit dashboard can help any leadership team. It tracks the vital few metrics an organization needs to measure and monitor. Which metrics should be included in a nonprofit dashboard? A car's dashboard doesn't display every piece of information about the car—just the few things that are most important to keep an eye on. Likewise, an effective nonprofit dashboard helps leaders focus on what matters most, assess progress in a timely way, and act and follow up. This article looks at each of these elements. 

Becoming a Learning Organization is a Journey, Not a Destination

February 3, 2023

Becoming a learning organization is a long-term commitment — a journey, not a destination. The Walton Family Foundation has been on this journey for several years now. We have had successes, setbacks and detours. Along the way, we learned a lot about what it takes to live into our value of continuously improving through learning and reflection.Our central insight so far: becoming a learning organization requires taking a systems-change view and applying it to our own work. This requires engaging an array of mutually reinforcing levers, ranging from targeted interventions to catalysts for deeper shifts, which together create a broader culture change. While there is no single route to becoming a learning organization, we hope that sharing the foundation's practical experience will help others chart their own paths.

Bending Art and Culture Towards Justice: The Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression Arts and Culture Program Investments in Diverse Creative Communities

December 12, 2022

What lessons can we learn about how change happens for arts organizations and networks that center People of Color and disabled artists, cultural producers, and executive leaders, especially those who have been further marginalized by sexism, heterosexism and xenophobia? What is the influence of a $230 million investment in their stability, their ability to expand their base of support and their lasting impact on the artists whose voices and cultural contributions they lift up?The Ford Foundation's Creativity and Free Expression Arts and Culture (CFE A&C) strategy discussion began in the Fall of 2015 and targeted goals of shifting "entrenched cultural narratives" that were embedded in and driving cultural norms. The early theory of change was to actually expand the scope of mainstream ideals to include content by underrepresented creators – shifting their status from the margins into the realm of being visible and seen in the mainstream. The 'margins to the mainstream' strategy has evolved over time to center the empowerment of People of Color creators and those with disabilities. The construct of 'mainstream ideals' has shifted from including content by these artists as part of the mainstream to influencing who has voice and who is widely recognized and valued as the mainstream.This report, based on research conducted from December 2021 to April 2022, summarizes key observations and strategic considerations from an in-depth evaluation of the strategy implemented by the Ford Foundation to support CFE A&C grantees, a strategy set in motion pre-pandemic. The purpose of Ford's evaluations is not focused on holding individual grantees accountable for complex social change outcomes, and instead seeks to prioritize learning; and, more specifically, to learn about how change happens and share lessons externally. Part of that learning centers not only on whether current approaches are having the desired impact, but also on whether modifications to the approaches or other internal factors might yield even greater impact.

Creativity & Free Expression Journalism Program Evaluation: 2016-2021

December 7, 2022

Since its launch in 2015, the Ford Foundation's Creativity and Free Expression (CFE) program has worked collaboratively to invest in creative organizations and storytellers shaping a more inclusive, just world across three areas of focus: Arts and Culture, Journalism, and documentary filmmaking through its JustFilms initiative. To assess impact and alignment with the changing needs of the field, the foundation is conducting a series of evaluations around each area of focus under the CFE program. This evaluation report on the CFE journalism strategy, distributed by Impact Architects, is one in a series of three evaluations to explore how arts and creative sectors can address inequality and advance justice.

Our Journey in Philanthropy: Lessons from three decades of funding at MAVA

November 30, 2022

After 28 years as a grant-making foundation, and as we enter our final weeks, we wanted to share our day-to-day experience at MAVA. We started doing this just over a year ago through our various learning products. But beyond the technical and partnership aspects, what are the main lessons we have learnt from our work as a donor?The 23-page publication 'Our Journey in Philanthropy: Lessons from three decades of funding at MAVA' illustrates – in the form of infographics – a summary of the history of the MAVA Foundation and the three successive phases of its structuring. It then presents the eight main lessons that we have learnt from our work as a donor and that we wish to share with the philanthropy sector. These lessons address the topics of collaboration, partners' expertise, donors' levers for action, and the role of foundations in the global system. In addition to describing each of these lessons, we provide elements of practice and an overall recommendation.

From “Innovation for Localization” to “Local Philanthropy, Localization and Power”

November 17, 2022

n 2021, five organizations – Save the Children Denmark, Network for Empowered Aid Response (NEAR), West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), STAR Ghana Foundation (SGF) and the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) participated in an ambitious and experimental joint project.The aim of the project was to "test durable, locally rooted funding mechanisms" in Somalia and Ghana, with the broader purpose of contributing – by demonstration – to efforts within the international humanitarian aid and development sector to transform and localize aid. The purpose of this learning report, curated by the GFCF, is to capture some of the main insights and reflections ofthe participating organizations and to consider the broader implications of and lessons from the project. It focuses on the experiences of those involved and the larger question of how unorthodox configurations of actors and new and different kinds of partnerships might contribute towards transformative change within the international aid system. 

Collaborative Outcomes from the Youth Justice and Employment Community of Practice

October 18, 2022

Established in mid-2021, the Youth Justice and Employment Community of Practice (CoP) is a partnership of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), the National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC), and Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) formed to improve outcomes for youth with justice involvement by increasing collaboration among local workforce and juvenile justice systems. The CoP began during the middle of COVID-19 at a time when counterparts in each jurisdiction were seeking to reestablish pandemic-disrupted communication and collaboration. CoP participants met monthly to share knowledge and expertise on topics of importance to both systems. Based on work from the CoP, participating cities and counties produced notable improvements in building relationships, expanding partnerships, and promoting investments that benefit justice-involved young people in their communities. This report documents successes and offers recommendations for others seeking to improve outcomes for these young people.

Evaluation of the Baltimore Health Corps Pilot: An Economic and Public Health Response to the Coronavirus

September 30, 2022

The Baltimore Health Corps was a city-run pilot launched in June 2020 and concluding in December, 2021. The pilot simultaneously addressed two issues: the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting employment crisis faced by Baltimore residents.The Baltimore City Health Department and the Mayor's Office of Employment Development led the Baltimore Health Corps, drawing on their experiences with equitable recruitment and hiring practices, workforce-supporting activities and public health worker training. Together, they led a team of public and private partners that included the Baltimore Civic Fund, Baltimore Corps, HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM), Jhpiego and the Mayor's Office of Performance and Innovation.The initiative tracked those who contracted the virus at the height of the pandemic and connected COVID-19-positive individuals with testing, resources and other assistance. In doing so, the Baltimore Health Corps also placed unemployed workers on a path to high-quality, lasting careers via temporary positions as community health workers with the Baltimore City Health Department and HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM). The program hired from a pool of Baltimore residents who reflected the city's racial and ethnic demographics and were unemployed, underemployed or furloughed because of the pandemic. By September 2021, 336 health workers had received training and took on roles within either the Health Corps' contact tracing and outreach program or the care coordination and access program.While these health worker positions were intended to last just eight months, as the pandemic persisted, the jobs were extended thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. As of May 2022, 126 Baltimore Health Corps workers remain employed with either the health department or HCAM, while 119 former staff members have since moved on to other employment opportunities.This is the Final Report to follow the Early Lessons Report for the Baltimore Health Corps Pilot Study. Readers are encouraged to review the Early Lessons Report for a detailed description of the formation of the Pilot Study, the role of each partner, as well as findings from the first year of the Pilot Study.

Greater Hartford Reentry Welcome Center: Year Three Evaluation September 17, 2020-September 17, 2021

September 22, 2022

This is the third in a series of evaluation reports for a three-year formative evaluation of the Greater Hartford Reentry Welcome Center (GH-RWC) comprising both process and outcome findings. The purpose of this formative evaluation is to identify what is and what is not working well and to provide strategic recommendations for areas needing improvement and to leverage emergent promising practices. This Year Three report provides the data and findings from CPA's RWC database, observations, surveys, and interviews for the period starting September 17, 2020 through September 17, 2021. The report also includes supplemental findings for the first two quarters of 2022, as the GH-RWC administration began to expand staffing and programming, and to prepare for moving to a new location that could accommodate the growth of the Center. The challenges that were experienced in Years Two and Three are being actively addressed by CPA, so many of the recommendations listed in the Year Three evaluation are already underway in Year Four.

Urban Resilience: From Global Vision to Local Practice - Final Outcome Evaluation of the 100 Resilient Cities Program

September 15, 2022

Summer hailstorms in Mexico City, weeks-long heat waves in India, hurricane-force winds off the Great Lakes—extreme weather events are becoming commonplace, testing the resilience of local and regional governments across the world. But urban resilience extends beyond weathering climate shocks. It also entails maintaining and improving infrastructure, ecology, economy, and community at the city level.For six years, from 2013 to 2019, the 100 Resilient Cities program sought to boost the capacity of local governments across all facets of urban resilience. Although the program ended earlier than anticipated, its unprecedented breadth of participating cities and scope of intervention provided potential lessons for cities across the world as they prepare for and face an increasingly uncertain future.KEY TAKEAWAYSThe 100 Resilient Cities program included three cohorts of cities from across the globe, each of which experienced three interventions to improve city governance operational and planning capacity for resilience: the creation and selection of a Chief Resilience Officer, the development and publication of a resilience strategy, and the implementation of that strategy, with technical support provided by the program. The Urban Institute monitored and evaluated the core features of the 100 Resilient Cities program for almost seven years, with this final report focusing on the outcomes for city planning and operations attributable to interventions across a 21-city sample. From this program, we believe the following lessons learned can help cities improve their resilience moving forward.Cities must focus on chronic social vulnerability in addition to unexpected shocks. Although cities must be prepared for extreme weather events and civil unrest, both of which can cause extreme devastation, they must also address ongoing issues, such as failing infrastructure and health care accessibility.Chief Resilience Officers and robust networks can facilitate city-to-city learning. As with any program, collaboration and sharing of knowledge can benefit all parties involved. The network of Chief Resilience Officers could advocate for successful resilience strategies from other cities, which could lead to more collaboration in local governments and across regions.Resilient governance requires more voices to be involved in planning and development. Foregrounding inclusion and equity is crucial for building resilience, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to many underlying systemic inequities in countries across the world.Resilience building takes a long time. Despite the necessary urgency of building resilience, solutions take a long time to implement and need consistent funding and support to fulfill their potential. When the 100 Resilient Cities program ended early, many cities had developed plans and strategies but lost the support that would have helped them enact those solutions. Ongoing political and funder support is critical for long-term resilience.

Funding Narrative Change, An Assessment and Framework

September 7, 2022

Narrative change has become a popular focus with growing urgency to change public narratives around issues like racial justice, health equity, abortion rights, and rights for trans people. But because this area of work is relatively new for funders, the work is often siloed, leading to a lack of meaningful results. This report's authors propose a framework for funders and practitioners to shift narratives via mass culture, mass media, and mass movements.