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ERIC Number: ED533477
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 208
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1248-0967-0
Improving Evaluation in the Nonprofit Sector: The Promise of Evaluation Capacity Building for Nonprofit Social Service Organizations in an Age of Accountability
Pejsa, Laura J.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
The purpose of this study was to explore the real-world practice of evaluation capacity building (ECB) in the small-medium sized nonprofit context. The study aimed to map the activities, processes, and outcomes of ECB in these nonprofits in light of the competing external and internal evaluation contexts facing nonprofits in an age of accountability. A secondary goal of the study was to observe the process of and pose possibilities for collaborative, cross-agency ECB programs and/or initiatives. To add to the empirical data on ECB practice, the researcher conducted a systematic observation of a nonprofit collaborative's ECB initiative. The collaborative, an organization of 27 member social service agencies in a major metropolitan area, chose two member agencies to undergo year-long, staff-focused pilot ECB projects at their sites. Participant observations of these pilot projects were the primary research method used in this study. Interviews, document review, and use of an evaluation readiness instrument complemented the observation data. Case studies of two organizations participating in an ECB initiative showed that differences in organizational structure and culture may largely affect how the process is implemented. Specific activities and processes that were helpful and/or valuable in the ECB process are discussed. Concrete outcomes associated with the ECB initiative were ECB plans for both pilot organizations, a client evaluation tool developed by one organization, and a sustained evaluation committee in one organization. Other outcomes identified in this study centered around attitudes and skills. ECB team members perceived a shift in their views of evaluation, identified themselves as evaluators or supporters of evaluation, and reported feeling more equipped to communicate about and advocate for evaluation. This study also details the process of starting and sustaining an ECB initiative at the nonprofit collaborative level. The promise of nonprofit collaboratives as homes for ECB initiatives is discussed, although the results of this study were less than promising for this model. For the collaborative as a whole, the initial pilot year was deemed a success and a curriculum was developed; efforts to continue and expand the initiative were not continued as planned, however, due to loss of funding. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A