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I Disagree with Agreement Scales

By Sheila Wilcox

I was reminded recently, when my project team switched the response scale for a survey question from an agreement scale to a frequency scale that, too often evaluators focus on developing survey questions while giving less attention to response options. When agreement scales are used as the fail safe response option, the result can be high-quality questions without the most meaningful answers to those questions.

Agreement scales are extremely common in the evaluation world, to the point of overuse. To be fair, evaluators cannot be completely blamed. While well-documented standards for writing survey items and how ... Learn more »


A Funder’s Guide to Protecting Human Rights

By Ria Sengupta Bhatt

The topic of human rights protection often evokes images of poor and disadvantaged individuals and the activities conducted and laws passed to ensure that they are not mistreated. A less common image is that of evaluators collecting data from and about these very same individuals, yet this is also a real piece in the human rights protection puzzle.

Evaluations of grantmaking strategies and programs document the experiences of grantees and program constituents through surveys, interviews, focus groups and observations. As such, it is important to protect the information communicated through these interactions. But whose job is it ... Learn more »


Purpose & Humility

By Ellen Irie

In the past few days, we have been drawn to the somber news of Steve Jobs’ passing. We listen to the story of his life, finding inspiration from its twists and turns. Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address, in particular, caught my attention, with its straight-forward references to the certainty of death and how to gain inspiration from death’s imminence.

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Jobs posed. This question is not just about personal gratification; it is about life purpose. ... Learn more »


A Well-Stocked Tech Toolbox is Only Half the Battle

By Evan Gattozzi

Technology is one of my favorite things. I love to “geek-out” and have conversations about how to use new technology in evaluation projects, such as new updates to online survey software and social media tracking strategies for community organizing projects. My technology toolbox is well stocked and constantly growing. Often I am tempted to use these tools simply because I can. However, as I was reminded today, this is not always a good idea.

I joined my team this morning to brainstorm ways to collect data from college students. In our attempt to make it easy for the ... Learn more »


Promoting Community Engagement: Reflections from Runner #13,165

By Kim Ammann Howard

Recently I ran, or to be more accurate, “sort of ran and mostly walked” the Bay to Breakers, the infamous 12K race in San Francisco. After navigating the course with my 11-year old daughter and more than 50,000 others, I found myself thinking about ways to engage diverse communities in social change efforts. While the race is clearly different from these more complex and long-term endeavors, it did serve as a symbolic reminder of successful engagement strategies that I have observed over the years in social change efforts.

  • Acknowledge, respect and support different entry points: The athletic ... Learn more »


Paging Dr. Oz…What Do Californians Need to Know About Health Care Reform?

By Lande Ajose

I’ve used this space in the past to take a critical look at philanthropic practice and what foundations can do better. Well, hold on to your hats…today I’m writing about something they’ve done well.

A couple months ago, shortly after the shellacking President Obama took in the polls, I was watching television and came across a familiar face: Oprah’s B.F.F. Dr. Mehmet Oz. Although he was a well known guest on the “Queen of Talk’s” show and now hosts a popular show of his own, in this advertisement he takes on a new role speaking about the imperative ... Learn more »


Equity … It’s for Everyone

By Ellen Irie

“Deliver on the promise of a quality education.” Thus proclaimed LeShawn Routé Chatmon, Executive Director of The National Equity Project (formerly BayCES), echoing the organization’s mandate at its inspirational re-naming event held on Friday, October 29 in downtown Oakland.

Informing Change is proud to have been a supporter of this event; Informing Change Managing Director, Lande Ajose, currently serves on The National Equity Project’s Board of Trustees. I attended the event with several of my Informing Change colleagues and was moved not only by the organization’s vision, but by the stories of the people who are ... Learn more »


Where is Organized Philanthropy?

By Lande Ajose

On October 17, the film Waiting for Superman opened in 27 cities. It has been hailed as the most significant documentary since Davis Guggenheim directed the Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The film is being credited with reinvigorating the national debate about the state of public education. As many efforts get underway and commitments to change are made, one voice is noticeably absent: organized philanthropy.

The absence of philanthropy is especially jarring considering how much money foundations pour into public education. According to a New York Times Magazine Learn more »


Harnessing the Power of the Visual

by Kim Ammann Howard

Recently, I’ve been thinking about new tools that can help present information in a visually engaging way. More than ever before, we are able to easily and cheaply gather and share such information. This has generated vast amounts of visual content; on YouTube alone, 24 hours of videos are uploaded each minute. However, as we know, more of anything doesn’t always equal better; sometimes it just means more. Below are some examples of tools that visually present information in a way that made me stop and think about an action I could take, how I ... Learn more »


Moving from Information Inundation to Transformation

By Kim Ammann Howard

Everyday, information permeates most aspects of our lives. Rapid advances in technology and our resulting ability to collect and share information takes place at a scale that was hard to imagine, even ten years ago. For many of us, this information explosion results in a “love-hate” relationship that oscillates between invigorating and overwhelming depending on the moment.

The Economist’s recent special issue report “Data, data everywhere” reflects on how, in our information-centered economy, various forms of data have become the new raw material of business in the industrial data revolution we find ourselves in. ... Learn more »


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