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Volume XV, Number 1, Spring 2010
Issue Topic: Scaling Impact
This issue of The Evaluation Exchange explores the promising practices and challenges associated with taking an enterprise to scale, along with the role that evaluation can and should play in that process. It is the second in our “hard-to-measure” series, which we inaugurated with our Spring 2007 issue on evaluating advocacy.
An introduction to this issue's topic of Scaling Impact by Harvard Family Research Project Founder & Director, Heather B. Weiss, Ed.D.Theory and Practice
Julia Coffman of HFRP and the Center for Evaluation Innovation describes four approaches to scale that differ on both what is scaled and how it is scaled.Theory and Practice
Erin Harris of HFRP reviews the literature on this topic and discusses how nonprofits can successfully scale up an intervention, thus expanding impact to reach larger populations.Beyond Basic Training
Peter Frumkin of the University of Texas at Austin describes the five primary ways in which funders define scale as it relates to nonprofits’ efforts to create a lasting and significant impact, and warns that strategic giving requires a nuanced stance grounded in a clear understanding of the many meanings—and limits—of scale.Beyond Basic Training
Paul Bloom and Aaron Chatterji of Duke University discuss their model for conceptualizing scaling impact for social entrepreneurs—individuals who start up and lead new organizations or programs to address social problems using change strategies that differ from those used in the past.Evaluations to Watch
Elizabeth Reisner of Policy Studies Associates discusses how the learning gains of STC’s children’s literacy program relate to the program’s scaling process: evidence of participant learning influenced the growth and further development of the program positively and powerfully.Ask the Expert
Heidi Rosenberg of HFRP and Helen Westmoreland of the Flamboyan Foundation spoke with three evaluators, who share lessons from their experiences in evaluating programs as they went to scale, to discover how evaluation can inform and assess scaling efforts.Questions and Answers
Marshall “Mike” Smith, senior counselor to the Secretary and director of international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education, discusses why the idea of scale entered the education policy conversation, the challenges involved in taking an intervention to scale in new settings, and what evaluation strategies should accompany the process of going to scale.Promising Practices
Sarah-Kathryn McDonald of the University of Chicago describes a conceptual model designed to demonstrate the role of evaluation in the scale-up process.Promising Practices
Roblyn Anderson Brigham and Jennifer Nahas discuss the implications of Brigham Nahas Research Associates’ evaluation of the Children’s Aid Society/Carrera Integrated School Model for expansion of the model to new school settings.Promising Practices
Many nonprofits collect data to measure their impact. But as Ginny Deerin, CEO of WINGS for kids, describes, they can also mine a treasure trove of performance data to improve their program models even before they undergo the scaling process.Promising Practices
Erin Harris and Priscilla Little discuss how Harvard Family Research Project used a multidimensional concept of scale to evaluate The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Integrated Learning Cluster strategy.Promising Practices
Helen Janc Malone of HFRP describes an afterschool program’s strategy for scaling its services and the role of evaluation in the scaling process.Spotlight
HFRP describes the functions of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, created by President Obama last year in response to the perceived lack of innovation and use of rigorous approaches to identifying “what works” in the nonprofit sector. The new office seeks to address the need to identify and scale up successful nonprofit initiatives.Spotlight
In 2007, The Evaluation Exchange (XIII, 1) featured the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, a research effort that developed metrics to measure the effectiveness of nonprofit online advocacy and fundraising efforts. Katie Chun of HFRP describes recent releases from this effort and others that help nonprofits assess the success of their online and text-messaging strategies.Spotlight
Katie Chun of HFRP discusses the growing momentum and collateral challenges of Facebook as the next major vehicle for nonprofits.
This section features an annotated list of papers, organizations, initiatives, and other resources related to this issue’s theme of scaling impact.End Notes
HFRP summarizes key observations in this issue of The Evaluation Exchange. Scaling impact often refers to scaling programs or interventions, but ideas, technologies, skills, and policies can also be scaled. Thinking about scale more broadly can reveal possibilities for scaling impact beyond the traditional business model of replication.
A number of informal conversations are occurring online about this topic (including the implications for evaluation), especially on blogs. This resource provides links to some of these recent conversations, which represent a wide range of views and opinions.
Free. 24 Pages.