Evaluation Initiative
Evaluation Initiative

Building Evaluation Capacity with the Strategies Center

  • Do you collaborate with grantees or contracted organizations to fulfill your goals?
  • Do they have the capacity to identify, collect, and use information to improve their services? To measure and report the outcomes they achieve?
  • Do you have a clear vision for the strategic use of evaluation?
The Strategies Center at Youth for Change™ launched its Evaluation Initiative in response to needs articulated by county agencies, foundations, and other entities partnering with nonprofit organizations. The Evaluation Initiative builds capacity among funders and their community-based partners to improve programs and services and to measure and report the outcomes they achieve. Public agencies, foundations, and other philanthropic organizations frequently fund community-based organizations to provide services and implement their strategies. To ensure that this work is effective, over three quarters of staffed foundations in the United States provide some type of capacity-building support1 to grantees. Among the broad range of knowledge, resources, and capabilities that public agencies and funders seek to support is the capacity to systematically collect and analyze information to improve programs, measure outcomes, and produce useful reports. Funders’ needs range from the ability to demonstrate basic accountability to complex evaluations designed to inform learning: what works, in what circumstances, and for whom? For more than 20 years, the Strategies Center has witnessed programs achieving remarkable results with few resources and, conversely, we have observed well-resourced programs flounder—not producing the anticipated results or expected social benefit. The Evaluation Initiative is designed to prevent the multiple potential costs incurred by public agencies and funders when accountability is superficial, program implementation is not studied, and outcomes are not effectively measured and reported. For example:
  • Program implementation and service quality are less likely to improve when they are not investigated. Early and ongoing identification and correction of implementation issues optimizes outcomes.
  • The potential for sustainability is dramatically reduced without the evidence required to take credit for an organization’s successes.
  • When insufficient information is available to allocate or reallocate resources to optimize desired outcomes, funds may be expended inefficiently and strategic philanthropy suffers.
The Strategies Center’s Evaluation Initiative offers the learning, development, and technical assistance to actualize or accelerate evaluation in organizations across a wide spectrum of technical sophistication. Contact us to discuss your evaluation needs. An initial consultation is cost free. 1 See: http://www.geofunders.org/resource-library/all/record/a066000000IbGXCAA3 Click here to learn more about participation.