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Scot Evans

Philanthropy's Albatross: Debunking Theories of Change (pdf) - 1 views

    A hilarious but highly focused critique of theories of change by G. Albert Ruesga President & CEO Greater New Orleans Foundation.
Scot Evans

The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy (May 18, 2011) | Stanford Social Innovation Re... - 0 views

  • The key is not strategy so much as strategic capacity: the ability to read the shifting environment of politics for subtle signals of change, to understand the opposition, and to adapt deftly.
  • Grantmakers should also focus on the aggregate return on investment of their entire portfolio of grants, not the success or payoff of any one grant.
  • We believe that the proper focus for evaluation is the long-term adaptability, strategic capacity, and ultimately influence of organizations themselves.
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  • Portfolio evaluation, by averaging out a number of investments over a longer period of time, also prevents the risk of over-attribution of success or failure to factors that are entirely exogenous to the activities of those they are investing in.
  • Evaluating advocacy organizations means paying close attention to the value they generate for others, rather than only focusing on their direct impacts.
  • Equally important is an organization’s strategic capacity, which can be defined not only as its formal strategic plan, or the wisdom of its senior leadership (two factors that funders tend to focus on), but also the organization’s overall ability to think and act collectively, and adapt to opportunities and challenges.
  • A good organization has a coherent and inspiring internal culture, the ability to consistently identify and motivate talented people, acquire and process intelligence, and effectively coordinate its actions. Effective advocacy organizations—such as Planned Parenthood, which recently maneuvered through a significant shift in their political alliances on reproductive rights—have a record of innovating and reorganizing when their tactics don’t work as well as they once did.
  • “network evaluation”—figuring out its reputation and influence in its policy space.
  • The real art of advocacy evaluation, which is beyond the reach of quantitative methods, is assessing influence, which is what funders are really paying for.
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