So What?

Whose Money is It?

May 25, 2018  • David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane & 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.

Whose money is it?

Your APEP friends have been thinking a lot about the power dynamics between funders and grantees, and between larger grantees and their local advocacy partners in communities, as we prep for a workshop on this very topic next week in Nairobi. One of us APEP-pers remembers a conversation about this issue on his first day of work at a major philanthropic foundation: a senior colleague said “we answer every letter and every phone call because this money belongs to the taxpayers; we owe them that.” With a hat tip to Erin Williams of the feisty International Women’s Health Coalition, here’s the feisty Vu Le, the unicorn behind the Nonprofit AF blog and a favorite of us here at APEP, speaking this same truth to power.

Perfectly clear advice

Economic development and social change and peacebuilding are, umm, complex and interlinked processes.  Evaluators have struggled for years to design or adapt methods and approaches like developmental evaluation or adaptive management that capture complexity and recognize the broader systems influencing change in fields like these. But funders – especially governmental sources accountable to taxpayers, or those emerging from backgrounds in business – are often resistant to the resulting “squishy” indicators of progress. The tension is evident in this “Monitoring and Evaluation Top 10 Trends for 2018.”  Want a deeper discussion?  Check out this Center for Global Development panel on June 11 that will provide all of the questions – if not all of the answers: From Evidence to Action: How Impact Measurement Can Drive Development Decisions.

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