So What?

Hey Evaluator – Is That Legal?

December 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.

Hey – is that legal?

Advocates and evaluators – and notably their foundation funders – worry that they may run afoul of laws and regulations that restrict lobbying by charitable organizations. What do evaluators need to know to keep our clients and ourselves on the right side of the law? Sue Hoechstetter of the Alliance for Justice and Jared Raynor of the TCCGroup are preparing an article to address evaluators’ concerns about how those restrictions affect our role. Have questions you’d like addressed? Send them to .

A major contribution to “contribution analysis”

For years, evaluators of complex processes like advocacy and policy change have intoned “contribution, not attribution.” That is: When multiple factors interact to produce an advocacy outcome, we can’t attribute change to one specific advocate or other actor in the process. We tell our clients that the evaluation should instead try to tease out the contribution of specific factors or actors. Fine. But how do we do that? Carlyn Orians, Claire Reinelt, Robin Kane, and Carlisle Levine, ace evaluators all, offer answers in their new brief from the Center for Evaluation Innovation on using contribution analysis in policy work. If you missed the awesome foursome’s sold-out session at the AEA conference, Robin and Carlisle will offer an encore in February 2018 at the next Aspen evaluation breakfast meeting. Stay tuned for date and deets in our next issue.

APEP is moving!

Your snarky APEP team and consultants operate virtually from Philadelphia, PA, Silver Spring, MD, and various locations on this and other continents. But effective December 18th, APEP global headquarters will reopen, along with the rest of the Aspen Institute’s Washington office, at 2300 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037 in Washington’s soon-to-be-yet-more-fashionable West End. Our phone numbers and emails won’t change. Pro tip: The entrance to 2300 N Street is, inexplicably, at 24th and N.

Aspen has a new President

And this just in: the Aspen Institute’s board announced their choice to succeed Walter Isaacson as President and CEO: Dan Porterfield, currently President of Franklin and Marshall College.

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