Our planning projects are done collaboratively with our clients. The plans we create with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations are designed to achieve significant organizational and program changes that benefit communities. Each assignment is unique, combining a range of planning and facilitation techniques that draw upon systems thinking, organizational theory, and interactive planning. The approaches and tools we use have been well-tested in practice. Our planning teams are tailored to the particular needs of our clients and balance depth of experience with state-of the art technical knowledge.
Many of our assignments involve working with clients on the design and introduction of innovative programs and practices. Our pragmatic approach aims to integrate a thorough knowledge of what works with a commitment to making the best possible use of limited resources. We see program development as a dynamic process that begins with a sound “theory-of-change” that makes assumptions and goals explicit. Theories of change always include a well-defined framework of strategies and actions that guide the implementation process. We spend time with our clients to carefully define expected impacts and ways of measuring progress toward them, and we review the procedures that will be used to review progress and make program adjustments when needed.
We undertake both formative and summative evaluations of foundation grantmaking investments and we work with nonprofit clients on both organizational and program assessments. We employ an interactive approach in which our clients are directly involved in the evaluation design, gathering critical information, and synthesizing findings. We believe that direct client involvement is the best way to enhance organizational learning and translate evaluation findings into meaningful improvements in strategies and programs. Evaluation teams are structured to be culturally diverse and to bring a mix of skills and perspectives. We often draw on a national network of associates to expand our reach, so we are able to undertake projects that are larger-scale and involve multiple fieldwork sites.
We have deep experience with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies that are appropriate to urban and community settings. We have the capacity to design and conduct complex applied research assignments that require “mixed-method” approaches – for example,a blend of survey and database research along with interviews, focus groups and participant observation. Our teams have worked in a range of organizational and community settings and we are committed to doing research that is relevant – with results that help our clients answer critical questions about both program strategy and execution.