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Welcome to our blog, Insights on Change, where we share what we’re learning through our client work in the field.

We pride ourselves in having a values-driven approach to our strategic consulting services. Our intention is not only to serve our clients but to contribute to the sector overall. In that spirit, we will use this space to share the lessons, observations and questions we encounter along the way.

Informing Change works at the intersection of client need and the needs of our communities. We are beautifully positioned to foster broader dialogue about the pressing issues and intriguing opportunities facing us all, and we want to share our findings with you.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback. Together, we can increase our collective ability to inform change.

Developmental Evaluation: What It Is & When to Use It

By Natalie Blackmur

When complex, external factors—ranging from policies and economic shifts to technological advances and environmental changes—come crashing through a program’s implementation, data from a traditional, summative evaluation can become obsolete and even counter-productive. Enter developmental evaluations, which deliver feedback on how an intervention fits within the broader system it’s trying to affect and, in turn, reveal pathways for change that more accurately address the roots of a community’s complex needs.


Ripple effects are ... Learn more »

A Q&A with Our Newest Director, Michael Arnold

By Natalie BlackmurMA

This fall, Dr. Michael P. Arnold joined the Informing Change team, and after a few weeks of settling in, he and I sat down to chat about why strategic learning and evaluation are important, and what motivates and shapes the way he does his work.

What drives you to help organizations evaluate and learn about their work?

I have a deep personal and professional interest in advancing diversity, inclusion and equity in the US and internationally, and in doing so, working in and with organizations that promote health equity through ... Learn more »

Our Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Election

Our heads are spinning and our hearts are heavy. Rather than celebrating a shattered glass ceiling, we feel the weight of a lower one bearing down on us. This election is a reminder that real change is almost never linear and steady. It happens in fits and spurts—in maddening steps backward for every relentless push forward.

This week, we have found deep comfort in knowing we’re not alone in such an uncertain and troubling time. Our greatest strength comes from our ability to listen to and share with one another. In that spirit, we’d like to share some of the compassionate, ... Learn more »

Tools for Building a Data-Driven Culture

By Sheila Walsh

The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) funded Center for Care Innovations (CCI) to develop a 14-month, cohort-based learning program for safety net healthcare organizations to strengthen their data analytics capabilities to improve patient care. CCI recently launched, which adapts SNAP’s curriculum and learning tools into an online, webinar format for any organization to use. There are videos and tools on creating a strategy for building data
dashboards-for-blogcapability, engaging teams, and choosing the right technology.

We’re adding our evaluation findings ... Learn more »

Informing Change’s AEA Preview

By Ellen Irie

The air is crisp and the days are shorter, which means at Informing Change, we’re working hard to prepare for AEA 2016. This year, Senior Associate Theresa Esparrago Lieu, Director Anjie Rosga and I will be traveling to Atlanta to compare notes with evaluators from around the world on what can happen when we bring design and evaluation together to support the strategic learning processes of social and environmental change-makers.

Anjie and I are facilitating three sessions this year—a small but mighty contribution to the 850-session program:

New Insights on Technical Assistance for Expanded Learning Programs

By Ria Sengupta Bhatt

Last month, organizations across the US celebrated Summer Learning Day, a nationally recognized day to raise awareness and support for summer learning and enrichment. We, along with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, commemorated the day by releasing More Than Supply and Demand: The State of Technical Assistance for Expanded Learning Programs in California.

In our nine-year engagement with the Packard Foundation’s After-school & Summer Enrichment Subprogram, we’ve seen that technical assistance (TA) is a promising strategy to improve the quality of expanded learning programs. But, as part of a complex system, TA providers’ abilities to ... Learn more »

Bringing Together Evaluation Theory and Practice

By Alana Kinarsky

As a graduate student in evaluation, I find myself often pondering how research on evaluation can or should enrich evaluation practice. So, during my summer internship at Informing Change, I organized a pop-up journal club—an opportunity for evaluators to read and discuss evaluation research with their colleagues. I circulated a few theory papers via email and the group elected to read Evaluation and Organizational Learning: Past, Present, and Future by Rosalie Torres and Hallie Preskill.  The following week, about 10 of us got together over pizza for a facilitated yet casual conversation.

Our conversation grappled with the relationship ... Learn more »

21st Century Civic Infrastructure: We Must Build It So All Can Come

By Jill Blair

Pages from 21st-Century-Report-FINAL-NoBlanks

The recently-released monograph by Jill Blair and Malka Kopell

The collective impact movement is beginning to shift the landscape of place-based investment. It is proving its greatest value as a formula for building community capacity to solve public problems. However, in order for communication, resources and action to move across the various players in collective impact efforts, a healthy civic infrastructure must facilitate public engagement.

What Is Civic Infrastructure?

Civic infrastructure is made up of places, policies, ... Learn more »

Navigating Relationships in Philanthropy-Consulting Partnerships

April 17, 2015

Navigating the power dynamics between consultants, grantees and funders is already a challenge with any consulting engagement. Add to those relationships a partnership and consultants’ existing relationships with funders and grantees, and communication and transparency between all parties become more important than ever.

consulting partnerships pt 4

By Natalie Blackmur


A funder should not assume that each consultant in a partnership has the same experience, relationships and allegiances. In addition, the nature of the consultancy may put the team more clearly working on behalf of the funder ... Learn more »

Essential Elements to Philanthropy-Consulting Partnerships

April 15, 2015

Our primary motivation for publishing our article about philanthropy-consulting partnerships in the Foundation Review was to start the conversation on what makes a good partnership. Without the following essential elements for success, philanthropy-consulting partnerships risk becoming burdensome and ineffective for both the funder and the consultants.


By Natalie Blackmur


A funder’s decision to tap a philanthropy-consulting partnership for a project should be an intentional one. To explore why they would use more than one consultant, funders should ... Learn more »

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