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TSNE, TNB, and TNB Labs Super Roundtable: Nonprofit Evaluation Strategies

Deborah Elizabeth Finn, Chief Strategic Officer, TNB Labs

Monday, December 5, 2016 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)

TSNE, TNB, and TNB Labs Super Roundtable: Nonprofit...

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Dear Colleagues and Friends, 

Third Sector New England (TSNE), Tech Networks of Boston (TNB), and TNB Labs (TNBL) are pleased to invite nonprofit professionals to a Super Roundtable, which will have an extended format and bring back Prentice Zinn of GMA Foundations and Amanda Sutter of YMCA of the North Shore as featured guests, in response to popular demand.  The setting will be the second floor West Room at the Boston NonProfit Center, and the topic will be evaluation frameworks for complex nonprofit outcomes.

The doors will open at 8:00 am, and a complimentary breakfast will be served.  This will give all participants an opportunity for professional networking before the program begins.   

Here’s what Amanda and Prentice say about this session: 

The goal of this workshop is to empower nonprofit staff as change agents through use of evaluation and learning. Evaluation is often seen as a primarily technical skillset that plays the primary role of supplying the organization with data. We posit that data and measurement should be more about learning, strategy, and improvement. Without this mindset, organizational cultures can subvert monitoring and evaluation practices that promote healthy learning and innovation, often leading to metrics fetishism, unrealistic expectations about what and how much should be measured, and excessive data collection. Addressing these sort of organizational challenges can be difficult for the evaluator, data analyst, or even program staff “accidental evaluator” who wants the data to be meaningful for real change but is often left out of these strategic conversations.

The aim of the workshop is to provide tools for evaluators of all kinds to be able to influence organizational decision-making about how evaluation is done in their complex environments. Beyond technical guidance of what data to collect, this will be a deeper discussion about the culture and management problems related to evaluation. Through interactive activities, we will target 3 organizational evaluation challenges: resource allocation, evaluation approach, and stakeholder engagement. The hope is that this workshop will leave participants with tangible action steps to take right away, as well as the inspiration that in changing organizational behaviors, you can be a leader for change. Because in the end, this shift in mindset to broaden the role of evaluation and center it in the organization’s work is absolutely necessary for organizations to achieve the impact they seek to make in our communities.

Through small group exercises and discussion, you will:

  • Identify the tensions of how monitoring and evaluation is prioritized and resources allocated within your organization and the nonprofit field.

  • Consider new approaches to evaluating complex interventions.

  • Explore alternatives for how your organization engages all your relevant stakeholders to gather information and create change.

  • Build comfort with the “pains and gains” of how well evaluation is integrated in your own organization, as well as how to be strategic in navigating this complex environment to advance evaluation’s role in organizational learning and strategy.

  • Create a plan for action for your organization and how you can be a champion of change.


Learning Objectives:

Our workshop learning objectives addressed four organizational challenges related to monitoring and evaluation:

  • Make learning a priority in your organization

  • Promote more thinking about systems and complexity

  • Expand the ways you evaluate and measure your work

  • Tailor how you engage different audiences both in communication and real involvement in evaluation

Here's a bit more about Prentice:    

Prentice Zinn joined GMA in 1999 and became a director in 2007. He serves as an administrator for the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, the A.C. Ratshesky Foundation, the Miller Foundation and the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust. The scope of his assignments includes start-up work with new donors, helping foundations rethink their mission and focus, and identifying high impact funding opportunities in the fields of the environment, public health, and human services. A Latin American studies graduate of the University of Michigan, Prentice also has Masters degrees from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Boston University School of Public Health.  

Here's a bit more about Amanda:  

Amanda Sutter is the director of evaluation and research at the YMCA of the North Shore, where she is working to build an evaluation system to demonstrate the Y's community impact. With master’s degrees in educational foundations and social work from the University of Michigan, she has worked in evaluation across multiple sectors including afterschool programs, substance abuse prevention coalitions, housing, poverty disruption, and youth mentoring. She spends her spare time working to build the Greater Boston Evaluation Network to bring together all those doing evaluation work in the region.  She is dedicated to using the best of evaluation and research to improve systems and policies that help organizations to use data for continuous improvement to achieve greater impact. 

Please note:    

1) This will be a professional development opportunity for nonprofit professionals who want to learn with and from their peers in other organizations.   

2) This session is for employees of nonprofit organizations. It is not designed to meet the needs of vendors, volunteers, students, consultants, job-seekers, and others.    

3) Priority in registration will be given to those who are employed by nonprofit organizations that hold full membership in the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.  

4) Participation in this session is free of charge for nonprofit professionals. However, you must have a confirmed reservation in order to attend.   

5) If this session is booked to capacity by the time you seek to register for it, please go ahead and put yourself on the waiting list. We have a good track record of finding seats for nonprofit professionals on the waiting list. 

We hope that you can join us for a vigorous and informative conversation, in which you will be welcome to share your knowledge and experience with your peers.    

Best regards from Deborah 

Deborah Elizabeth Finn

Chief Strategic Officer
P.O. Box 2073
Framingham, MA 01703

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Have questions about TSNE, TNB, and TNB Labs Super Roundtable: Nonprofit Evaluation Strategies? Contact Deborah Elizabeth Finn, Chief Strategic Officer, TNB Labs

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When & Where

Boston NonProfit Center
89 South Street
Boston, MA 02111

Monday, December 5, 2016 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)

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Deborah Elizabeth Finn, Chief Strategic Officer, TNB Labs

TNB Labs' Mission is to help nonprofit organizations attain their mission, vision, and goals by integrating high quality data support, modeling, and governance with the organization’s people and processes in an efficient, meaningful, and cost-effective way.


Through our partnership Roundtables with Tech Networks of Boston, we have had a unique opportunity to listen to hundreds of people who are committed to elevating the role of data within their organizations.   Since the dawn of "data-driven organizations," we have seen nonprofits struggle to collect, measure and analyze data without access to new sources of funding and appropriate technical support.


TNB Labs was formed to improve the capacity of nonprofit organizations at every stage of the outcome management process, from data collection to "wisdom."

Our approach is to provide resources to individual organizations and to develop new resources for the Greater Boston nonprofit community by educating funders about nonprofit data management needs and by partnering with community colleges and other institutions to provide nonprofit data management career pathways for students from diverse backgrounds.

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TSNE, TNB, and TNB Labs Super Roundtable: Nonprofit Evaluation Strategies
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