Building capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion: Lessons from two years of organizational effectiveness grants

How can nonprofits build stronger muscles around diversity, equity and inclusion? This is a challenging question that many peer funders and the nonprofits that we support are currently grappling with. While there are no easy answers, a new assessment following two years of capacity-building grants offers some lessons. First, a bit of background: Since 2004,…

Watching over the bright lines of democracy

What are the key elements of democracy in the United States? How are they faring under the current strain? These are big, difficult, and alas all too relevant questions. The Bright Line Watch project monitors perceptions of a core set of democratic principles or “bright lines” and now has three years of data to illuminate…

A New Look at Impact Evaluation Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Impact evaluation and other forms of research that have the potential to inform policy decisions are becoming more prominent in sub-Saharan Africa. And while researchers working in their own countries bring contextual knowledge, relationships, and sustained attention that help ensure results are used in policy decisions, many research teams funded by donors do not include 

How foundations listen to the people they seek to serve: A field scan

As part of an effort to elevate beneficiary voice in our philanthropic practice, the Hewlett Foundation commissioned a field scan, conducted by Valerie Threlfall and Rebecca Klein of Ekouté Nonprofit Consulting, to examine how other funders are trying to systematically gather and use feedback from the people their grants are intended to benefit. In this…

Ask citizens what they want, and other lessons from I Am Aware’s Ghana program

In Ghana, the Center for Democratic Development’s I Am Aware program provides information to citizens about the quality of health, education, water and sanitation, roads, security and governance in 216 districts. We’re privileged to support the program with a grant from our Transparency, Participation, and Accountability strategy that focuses on service-delivery monitoring, and recently had…

Historical assessment of the first state-wide passage of ranked choice voting in Maine

Editor’s Note: Kathy Armstrong is an independent evaluation and organizational effectiveness consultant. After years of wrangling, this year, Maine became the first state in the country to pass and uphold ranked choice voting (RCV), which lets voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than casting a vote for just one. As we’ve noted before, ranked…

The sorry state of cybersecurity imagery

This post originally appeared on Lawfare. Since this post was written, the Hewlett Foundation and its partners at OpenIDEO have announced the top ideas from their Cyber Visuals Challenge. The state of cybersecurity imagery is, in a word, abysmal. A simple Google Image search for the term proves the point: It’s all white men in…

Bay Area Arts Advocacy: A Historical Overview

This report provides a partial snapshot of the Bay Area’s arts advocacy history, sourced from 25 advocates and government officials answering the question: What are the public policy moments (federal, state and local) that shaped the Bay Area nonprofit arts ecosystem we have today?  The list of “policy moments” is curated to provide some geographic breadth.

Current Perspectives on Arts Advocacy & How to Better Support it in the Bay Area

This report analyzes interviews with 12 arts and culture advocates and government officials about their experiences engaging in advocacy work and summarizes the perspectives shared on what is meant by ‘arts advocacy,’ successful advocacy strategies,  advocacy bright spots and challenges in the Bay Area as well as suggestions for how to productively support advocacy work in 

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