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The Satisfaction of Creating a Theory of Change

By Tina Cheplick

I’ve always enjoyed cleaning out a messy drawer or cupboard—pulling everything out, sorting the contents by category or size, choosing which items to discard and which to keep, and then putting things back in an orderly way. Sometimes the process reveals a new way to stack or arrange things, or prompts me to acknowledge that some things no longer belong in the space, like phone trees for basketball teams that my kids are no longer on and plastic ware that I’ve learned is bad to put in the microwave. There’s a satisfying, reflective aspect to handling and ... Learn more »

Data Capacity Building Lessons Learned

By Kris Helé

More than ever, nonprofits need to assess, reflect on, sharpen and communicate about their work—to better meet their missions, satisfy demands from multiple stakeholders and ensure their sustainability. In this context, data are becoming increasingly valuable as currency across the nonprofit world. Yet, nonprofits’ ability to collect, understand and use data often falls far behind the needs. Most nonprofits stand to benefit from support to bolster their data quality, capacity and comfort in this era of big data.

Through our partnerships with many nonprofits and their funders over the years, we’ve learned a lot about building capacity for data, ... Learn more »

Journey of Informing Change

By Ellen Irie

KE6R1502Not many people know that when our founders brainstormed a name for the company, one of the options they considered was Informing Change. For me, rebranding and adopting Informing Change as our name circles back to the company’s roots and reaffirms our very purpose for being.

Our purpose is the reason why I embraced the position of leading this company when the opportunity arose several years ago. Having worked with Jill, Fay and Paul—the company’s founders—before they even conceived ... Learn more »

Surveys – Here, There and Everywhere

By Sheila Wilcox

Virtually everyone asks you to take a survey—your job, restaurants, stores, schools, airports and the list goes on. It’s been reported that American adults are invited to take surveys 7 billion times a year. There have even been surveys about what people think of surveys (they’re not too crazy about them)!

Not too long ago, surveys were generally reserved for use by researchers and evaluators like us. Then, organizations of all types realized the benefits of getting large amounts of quantitative data quickly and began surveying their customers, stakeholders, employees and more. Many of these are ... Learn more »

Reflections on the Affordable Care Act

By Kris Helé

I recently attended a wonderful lecture through UC Berkeley Extension by UCB Public Health Professor William Dow. “Health Care Reform Update: Post-Affordable Care Act (ACA) Progress and Challenges” was an unexpectedly satisfying way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. It was a quick, digestible run-down of what health care reform entails, what’s been implemented to date and what’s coming in 2014 with full implementation.

I left the session with a number of key take-aways to inform not only Informing Change’s health practice but my own perspectives about health care reform. For instance:

How are you creating a healthier future?

By Amanda Philips

This week marks the 19th National Public Health Week, a week dedicated to recognizing the contributions of public health and ways to improve our nation’s health. This year’s theme, “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money,” emphasizes the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending.

National Public Health Week prompts us to reflect on the current state of our nation’s health and how we are responding to the changing landscape. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, ... Learn more »

Health and Happiness at Any Age

By Nadai Salibi

Ida, you’re my hero! At 97 years young you are doing things that I can only hope to do in the prime of my life. As Lisa Ling chronicles your life in Our America I watched in awe as you ran the 100 meter dash alongside 20 year olds while breaking your own record. Your ability to stay mobile and live independently sets you apart from the general population, and most certainly your age group. After learning about the tragedies you have suffered—your husband’s death when your daughter was just a child and the death ... Learn more »

What Data Can Do

By Naomi Orensten

David Brooks piece on the limitations of data in The New York Times hits on many of the real challenges and limitations of quantitative data collection and analysis that evaluators and consultants, like us here at Informing Change, face regularly. For example, numbers can miss nuance, big data are messy and sometimes interpreters of data look for what they want to see rather than the overall picture that the data actually paint. I want to remind data developers and consumers —that is, most of us!—of three critical data collection practices that address some of Brook’s concerns.

Learn more »

Education Should Dismantle Barriers, Not Fortify Them

By Jay Sherwin

A recent New York Times story by Jason DeParle offers a moving portrait of three smart and ambitious young women, friends from Galveston, Texas, with dreams of a better life. All three enrolled in college but, five years later, none has graduated. All three are back in Galveston, working, paying off their debts and no doubt wondering how things might have turned out differently.

In telling the stories of these three women, DeParle makes this powerful statement about contemporary American life: “Education, a force meant to erode class barriers, appears to be fortifying them.” He’s right, and ... Learn more »

Will More Information Make Philanthropy Smarter?

By: Naomi Orensten

It’s no secret that many of us evaluators and planners love data. Accessible and reliable data organized in standardized formats and presented in visually appealing ways makes us giddy. Yet, the philanthropic community suffers from a lack of up-to-date and readily available grantmaking data—data that have the potential to inform the work of nonprofits, funders, researchers and academics. That is precisely why I was excited to read about the, “Reporting ... Learn more »

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