So What?

How to Better Evaluate Philanthropies

September 1, 2017  • Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program

The biweekly “So What?” guide highlights advice, events, and tips — mostly from the advocacy and evaluation worlds, selected by the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program.

Evaluating Philanthropy

The power imbalance between grantmaker and grantseeker will never disappear. Those of us who have worked for foundations know that it is all too easy to start believing the nice things people say to you when they are asking for money. But many foundations genuinely want to do better. Like when they participate in The Evaluation Roundtable. Or when they seek candid feedback from grantees via the Center for Effective Philanthropy and its Grantee Perception Report. Yet most foundations don’t invite such feedback. And grantees who respond may not trust that their comments will remain anonymous. Unsuccessful grantseekers aren’t typically on the mailing lists for those surveys. The much-admired Vu Le of Nonprofit Absolutely Fabulous wrote this week to promote the brand-new GrantAdvisor site that “crowdsources grantmaker information for nonprofits seeking funding throughout the US.” GrantAdvisor allows “grant applicants, grantees, and others to share their first-hand experiences working with funders.” Of course, there is some risk that people respond irresponsibly, but the reviews shared online so far look pretty fair. Check it out and consider adding your experiences dealing with America’s philanthropies and philanthropoids.

(And a nervous note to our foundation clients: we love you and you are all perfect in every way).

Analyzing Tweets

No – not those tweets. APEP found this fascinating and suitably wonky analysis of what Twitter traffic tells us about patterns of information flow concerning the recent crisis over access to holy sites in Jerusalem. For those who follow the news via long-form features and analysis like this and this, examining where “bot nets” appear to be most active or analyzing the language used in hashtags can still seem alien. But the study’s author, Akin Unver, posits a future (and the future is now) where misinformation or disinformation that appears to come from actual constituents could influence a rash decision.

Give – and give wisely – for hurricane relief

Evaluators like data. On our good days, we try not to say or do more than the data tell us. So however much our hearts are moved by requests to help out survivors of Harvey, we should all check carefully before donating. Here’s some info from Consumer Reports about reliable channels.

So What?
Are Facts Persuasive?
August 18, 2017 • Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program