So What?

APEP walks the walk and invites you to squawk

August 21, 2015  • Institute Contributor

“So What?” – Your Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact
Lovingly selected and lightly snarked by Team APEP: David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane, and Christine Ferris

Hands off my funder                                              

The nonprofit sector sports some pretty fierce competition for funding. Sometimes that can be healthy. But it can also blow up collaborations, warp missions, and encourage “donor hoarding” – as our favorite nonprofit truth-teller reminds us in this smack-down of the Nonprofit Hunger Games. Would it help if NPOs, funders, and evaluators obsessed a little less over attribution? Will the Ford Foundation’s new, more patient approach – with more general operating support – help alleviate some of the NPO-eat-NPO mentality?

It ain’t easy – but it’s worth it

So we were on a participatory kick – we had it for breakfast, and we served it in a couple helpings of So What-titude. And now it is (deservedly) back on the menu. Check out this conversation on challenges and opportunities in constituent feedback (like the need to “earn the candour of constituents”), and this AEA365 blog post on using unconventional means to find, encourage, and respect voices that are often unheard but most affected by a problem. And the cherry on top: examples in this NY Times op-ed of how hundreds of hours spent gathering and using community feedback ultimately paid off.

 Walking the walk

So we’ve been talking the participatory talk. Now, in the spirit of walking the walk, we are asking you – dear readers – to give us feedback on So What? Our navel-gazing goal is to evaluate whether our humble weekly is helpful, interesting, and relevant to our readers – and how to make it better.

So our burning question to you is: What topics or types of information catch your eye?                                            

 We’re asking for reals. We want you to have a reason to read So What? But this’ll only work if, y’know, you actually tell us what you think. So please send your answer to: We await your feedback with bated breath. We’ll be featuring some of your comments in this very space.

The Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program helps leading foundations and nonprofit organizations plan, assess and learn from their efforts to promote changes in knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and policies in the US and internationally. To learn more about our tools and services, visit