Legally High (on Evaluation)?
The American Evaluation Association’s annual conference kicks off next week in Denver. Your APEP friends will be there, gearing up to present our work with colleagues and friends in the media impact assessment and advocacy and policy change evaluation fields. David Devlin-Foltz will be joining Helena Choi from Hewlett, Mustafa Kudrati from Pathfinder International, Nan Wehipeihana, and Wellspring’s Bess Rothenberg for a panel on funder, NGO and evaluator perspectives on advocacy evaluation. Catch their act on October 16th at 1pm! (Sorry, no interpretive dance.) And check out APEP’s Susanna Dilliplane and Robert Medina with Dina de Veer from Active Voice talking films and social change.
Maps for Social Change
Officially, MapStory is “an online social cartographic platform” aiming to “empower the community of experts to crowd-source and peer review data within a geospatial and temporal framework.” (For us laymen: a website that allows you to collaborate with others on really cool maps.) We’re impressed with MapStory’s unique angle – giving folks the tools to tell their own stories with maps, from crises like this one in Mexico to Marco Polo’s journey around the world in the 13th century. The evaluator in us wonders, though: what counts as a “success” for them and how are they measuring it?
Last week, the Stanford Social Innovation Review posted on their website two interviews with nonprofit CEOs about that tricky issue of scaling up. Michael Smith, director of the Social Innovation Fund at the White House, offers a pithy introduction to the opportunities and challenges of scale. Evaluators grapple with the scale question all the time, especially when clients tell us they want to use evaluation results to decide which programs are worth scaling up – and which need to be scrapped. In the world of advocacy evaluation, where complexity is front and center, the answers may not be clear.