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Blog | Page 6

The Greening of Organizational Capacity

By Ellen Irie

Capacity building has been a leading issue in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors for over a decade. This is a good thing. The increased focus has provided nonprofits with time and resources to attend to the underlying structures, competencies and processes that enable them to be more efficient and effective in their mission-related work.

In the last several years, “greening” has also become a topic of much discussion. While greening is a relatively young term that lacks a consistent definition, it generally relates to making a place or processes more environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable.

I would like ... Learn more »

Rethinking Diverse Foundation Leadership

By Lande Ajose

In liberal California, diverse philanthropic leadership may not appear to be much of a conversation. After all, a quick look at many of our leading foundations—James Irvine Foundation, The California Endowment, the California HealthCare Foundation—as well as some notable community foundations—California Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation and the East Bay Community Foundation—would suggest that the issue of diversifying leadership is a thing of the past. Yet according to a recent national report by the Council on Foundations, only 20% of new foundation CEOs are from diverse ... Learn more »

Cultivating Breakthrough Change

By Kim Ammann Howard

Coaching, when done well, can result in breakthrough changes for leaders, their organizations and over time the individuals and communities that they serve. It has been used to enhance nonprofit leadership and organizational effectiveness in a variety of ways ranging from renewed commitment to nonprofit work due to better work-life balance, to stronger senior leadership teams and boards due to clarification of roles and responsibilities, to shifts in roles from an internal to external focus due to more frequent and effective delegation.

Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of learning about the experience ... Learn more »

Discovering Your Evaluation Capacity

By Jennifer Curry Villeneuve

Calls for more and better evidence of programmatic outcomes echo through the nonprofit and philanthropic world. These appeals get louder with the intersection of increased needs in the community during tight economic times and the pressures to accomplish more with fewer resources. When planned and implemented well, evaluation can address the important questions of how supports are used and their impact, while also increasing an organization’s ability to refine and strengthen program goals and implementation towards more effective and efficient practice. In addition, high quality evaluation can inform future work.

A primary priority for evaluation is to decide ... Learn more »

Evaluation, Integration & Innovation

By Ellen Irie

Good evaluation depends on integration. Integration with what? Integration into the daily and ongoing work of organizations dedicated to addressing pressing social problems and bringing about social change.

Evaluation is fundamentally about learning, and it involves much more than just collecting, analyzing and reporting on data. It is not just about accountability; nor is it just about proving assumptions. Yes, for evaluation you need good data—and I would argue, multiple types of data. And yes, evaluation can also help ensure accountability and establish cause and effect. But at its core, evaluation should support learning, and learning should be ... Learn more »

Why Nonprofits Don’t Make Mistakes

By Lande Ajose

In the private sector, generally speaking, there is generous room for mistakes. In an R&D function, private companies can spend a lot of money trying and testing a problem, and failing, without the fear of having to make their learning known. Eventually they unearth the positive lessons, bury the negative lessons and move on.

For nonprofits dependent on foundations for resources, R&D is a little tougher. Particularly in this era of accountability, nonprofits are ever-conscious of spending their resources on something that delivers more quantifiable outcomes and impact—or at the very least, some best practices or ... Learn more »

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