» Resources

Well-Designed and Well-Implemented Programs

PerformWell – PerformWell is a collaboration website that provides guidance around measurement tools and practical knowledge to human services professionals to help them manage their programs’ day-to-day performance.  The site has an assessment library, outcome bank, and resources to help practitioners understand the quality of their programming.

What Does It Take to Implement Evidence-Based Practices? – This whitepaper by the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit strategy consulting firm, explores how nonprofits can select and implement Evidence Based Practices (EBPs) with fidelity. It also explores six key elements in an “ecosystem” of support needed to scale the local use of EBPs.

Colorado Implementation Collaborative Grassroots network comprised of practitioners, researchers, organizational leaders, and purveyors in the fields of early childhood, education, child welfare, youth corrections, public health, public safety, and behavioral health who have an interest in the application, investigation, and/or promotion of high quality implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs). The Colorado Implementation Collaborative meets monthly in Denver (more information here).

National Implementation Research Network – Professional network and resource portal for the science of implementation, organization change, and system reinvention to improve outcomes across the spectrum of human services. A major goal of the National Implementation Research Network is to help establish an evidence base for the implementation processes and practices of evidence-based programs.

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development – Based out of CU Boulder, the Blueprints project is an online library of evidence-based program models. Blueprints also rates programs based on the strength of their evidence base, considering evaluation quality, intervention impact, intervention specificity, and dissemination readiness.

Culture of Learning, Improvement, and Evaluation

The Performance Imperative – The Performance Imperative (PI) is a whitepaper created by the Leap of Reason community, a large network of nonprofit leaders, to create a common definition for High Performance in the nonprofit sector. The PI outlines seven pillars of performance ranging from adaptive leadership to external evaluation, and gives examples of how leading organizations use these pillars to grow their impact.

Impact & Excellence – Written by Sheri Cheney Jones, Impact & Excellence is one of a small number of books published on nonprofit performance measurement. It contains many practical even the smallest organizations can use to begin measuring their performance.  Jones pulls from her experience in leadership roles with the Ohio Department of Aging as well as building a nonprofit consulting practice serving organizations across the Midwest.

Building Capacity to Measure and Manage Performance – This whitepaper by the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit strategy consulting firm, explores 5 key lessons for how nonprofits can make the shift from tracking data for funders to using data to drive better performance for clients.

Using Outcome Information – This whitepaper by the Urban Institute outlines the many potential uses of outcome information beyond reporting to funders. In addition to guidance on using data to motivate staff, volunteers, and clients it outlines sample meeting agendas and strategies for making meaning from conflicting or unexpected results.

Integrating Evaluative Thinking into Organizational Practice – This whitepaper commissioned by the Bruner Foundation defines what evaluative thinking is and how organizations can build their ability to think evaluatively over time. It also outlines a number of “Evaluation Essentials”, including how to plan for evaluations, create good questions, drafting reports and commissioning external evaluation.

State of Evaluation in Colorado’s Nonprofit Sector – This whitepaper published in 2015 by The Colorado Trust, Colorado Nonprofit Association, and Community Resource Center outlines the role of evaluation for nonprofits in Colorado, challenges to evaluation practice and recommendations to support a stronger future for evaluation in the state. The report contains useful statistics organizations may use to compare their evaluation practice to state-wide averages. It also compares Colorado to national statistics on evaluation practice.

The State of Evaluation Project – The State of Evaluation project is an annual survey of nonprofits designed to provide actionable research about nonprofit evaluation capacity and practice. The survey and results cover approaches to evaluation, methods used, software used, funding sources, common challenges and more. The project is led by the Innovation Network, a nonprofit evaluation, research, and consulting firm based in Washington DC.

Social Value International – SVI is a professional group focused on measuring social value. SVI based out of Europe and have affinity chapters in many countries including the US. One of the most valuable resources SVI offers is a collection of impact reports which demonstrate the social return on investment of various programs across the world.

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity – Written by former corporate executive and philanthropist Mario Moreno, this free book is a collection of essays from nonprofit leaders exploring why the social sector must become better at measuring performance. Moreno’s perspective is informed by 50 years as entrepreneur, technologist, and civic and business leader.

Working Hard & Working Well – Written by nonprofit consultant David Hunter, Ph.D., this free book is a companion to Leap of Reason and outlines in detail how nonprofits can define their mission, create a theory of change, outline program logic, and manage program fidelity.  Prior to opening his consulting practice, Hunter served as the Director of Assessment and Knowledge Development at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and as the Chief Executive of multiple large mental health providers.

Evidence Building and Evidence Warehouses

PEW-MacAurther Results First Clearinghouse Database – This one-stop online resource provides an easy way to find information on the effectiveness of various interventions as rated by eight national research clearinghouses. Interventions are given easy-to-understanding ratings and organized by policy area, evidence rating, and intervention type.

Research Clearinghouse Toolkit – This toolkit summarizes the role of research clearinghouses and outlines examples where information found on these clearinghouses influenced policymaking decisions. It also discusses some of the limitations and cautions leaders should consider when selecting an evidence-based program.

The What Works Marketplace: Helping Leaders Use Evidence to Make Smarter Choices – This whitepaper by the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit strategy consulting firm, examines the “market” for evidence of effectiveness – specifically, how robust is this market for evidence of interventions, what can strengthen it, and who should lead it.

Financial Health and Sustainability

Nonprofit Finance Fund – NFF is a consultant and partner to nonprofits and funders/investors looking to strengthen their financial performance. In addition to providing services, they have an array of guides and trainings outlining finance fundamentals for nonprofits and social impact funders.

Fiscal Management Associates – FMA provides consulting, outsourcing, and training services related to nonprofit accounting and financial controls. They also provide training on relevant nonprofit finance and accounting topics via their FMA Institute.

The Skills to Pay the Bills – This white paper by MDRC, Child Trends and The Wallace Foundation summarizes the evaluation of a five-year effort by The Wallace Foundation to strengthen the fiscal management practices of nonprofits. The report highlights results of the capacity building effort, the impact of improved fiscal management on organizations, and implications for funders, consultants and nonprofit organizations.

Evidence Focused Funding

The Fund for Shared Insight – Grantmaking body that provides funding to help organizations gather and incorporate feedback from beneficiaries, understand the connection between feedback and results, and foster openness among foundations and grantees. Their Listen for Good initiative provides selected grantees $45,000 over two years to implement tools to get feedback from constituents and benchmark results against similar organizations.

Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) – LJAF is one of the few foundations that accepts applications from new grantees for funding rigorous evaluations. LJAF tends to focus funding on programs that impact education or criminal justice outcomes, and evaluations that are rigorous (i.e., randomized control trials). See here for a recent request for proposal for those looking to fund a new RCT.

Education Innovation and Research Grants, Department of Education – Grants from the Department of Education that provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale programs to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Funds can be used for program evaluation. Grants come in three tiers, based on the level of evidence a program has of its success: “Early-phase” grants, “Mid-phase” grants, and “Expansion” grants.

J-PAL North America – The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a collaborative of professors across 49 universities that conduct rigorous research and evaluation of interventions designed to combat poverty. See here for a recent RFP for funding randomized control trials.

The Kresge Foundation – Kresge is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit. While Kresge doesn’t offer a separate mechanism for funding evaluations, the foundation makes clear that being
“committed to outcomes and use of data” is an important competency expected of new grantees. More about their current funding opportunities here.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation – The W.K. Kellogg foundation is a private foundation committed to ensuring all children, families and communities – regardless of their race or income or where they live – have opportunities to reach their full potential. W.K. Kellogg holds just over $9 billion in assets, and funds projects across the United States in the following focus areas: Thriving Children, Working Families and Equitable Communities. While W.K. Kellogg doesn’t offer a separate mechanism for funding evaluations, it prioritizes evaluation as a key component of grants it makes. W.K. Kellogg also has several free, high-quality evaluation resources, including an evaluation guide and logic model development guide available here.

The Drucker Prize – The Drucker Prize for nonprofit innovation is an annual, $100,000 award for organizations “creating a new dimension of performance.” While the application is competitive and the prize awarded to only one organization per year, the Drucker Institute sponsors an online learning platform with a wealth of resources around innovation and capacity building for any organization that applies.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation – The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation champions economically disadvantaged youth, and seeks to expand programs with compelling evidence in order to help more vulnerable young people become successful adults. The foundation holds roughly $1 billion in assets, and has also established a collaborative called Blue Meridian Partners, which intends to invest at least $1 billion in national nonprofits through long-term funding. While the organization does not accept unsolicited proposals, EMCF is exploring the expansion of PropelNext, and initiative which helps nonprofits transform their passion for helping disadvantaged youth into data-driven insights and practices.

 

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