Evaluation can be a powerful tool to inform decision-making and tell us whether our collective work to improve health is having the impact we’re aiming for. The Health Fund strives to achieve tangible outcomes and lasting impact for Michigan residents, and we know the best measure of success is through the successes of our grant partners. To that end, we integrate evaluation and evaluative thinking into all of our work at the Health Fund, collaborating closely with our grantees to measure success and build evaluation capacity.
Our evaluation strategy is led by Rory Neuner and supported by John Slocum and Jordan Sanders, a Graduate Education Diversity Intern (GEDI) through the American Evaluation Association. We are happy to schedule time to talk to current and prospective grantees to discuss evaluation and/or review any aspect of your project evaluation plan. To learn more, contact us.
Evaluation is a priority across the Health Fund’s grant portfolio, but we do not require formal evaluation plans from grantees or applicants. Instead, we tailor our approach to our each of our five grantmaking programs and the needs of those grantees.
However, we strongly encourage our partners to use evaluation tools and principles of evaluative thinking as they design projects and draft proposals, as well as throughout their own organizational development.
Our evaluation work reflects the following principles:
- Be collaborative. The evaluation ecosystem includes grant partners, other funders, community members, policymakers, and the evaluation field—and we all learn more when we work together. At the Health Fund, we engage grantees and other partners from planning through dissemination.
- Tell the story. It’s important to understand not only what’s working but why (or why not), and to translate those lessons for practitioners and decisionmakers. To give our evaluation efforts a life beyond reports, we seek to share timely, accessible, and compelling stories with partners, peers, and policymakers.
- Be accountable. Through evaluation, we assess the effectiveness of our grantmaking against our mission and strategic plan. We aim to use evaluation results to become more effective funders and partners.
- Inform policymaking. We work closely with program officers to design evaluation projects that can inform structural change, influence health policy, and transform health delivery.
- Value multiple perspectives. Michigan is a diverse state, and evaluation is a varied practice. We tailor our approach to the needs of a particular community or project, drawing on a variety of measurement methods and strategies rather than a specific template or tool.
- Embed equity. Our evaluation work is in the service of broader work to reduce systemic health disparities and address root causes of poor health. We acknowledge the ways in which traditional evaluation practices have not and do not adequately address equity. We’re working to advance, explore, and implement more equitable evaluation principles.
At the Health Fund, we measure our own impact through the impact of our grant partners. To that end, we want to ensure our partners are equipped to conduct robust, meaningful evaluation efforts. In 2019, we partnered with the evaluation firm Equal Measure to develop an evaluation capacity building (ECB) plan. This plan aims to align grantmaking activities with the Health Fund’s mission of improving health outcomes.
2020 EVALUATION CAPACITY BUILDING EVENTS
2020 EEI HEALTH FUND COLLABORATORY
In partnership with the Equitable Evaluation Initiative, we’re working to build up Michigan’s evaluation ecosystem. Current and former Health Fund grantees are invited to join us for a deep dive into equitable evaluation, including discussions with peers, consulting, and coaching. This collaboratory is modeled after similar EEI initiatives that bring philanthropy, nonprofit, and consultant partners together and bridge the unique perspectives of each area.
In the first full-day session, participants will unpack the Equitable Evaluation Framework and explore current evaluation practices, pinpointing improvements to bring back to their own organizations. Then, three monthly calls will encourage participants to reflect, guide one another, and identify areas for growth. The final full-day session will bring everyone back together in person share experiences from the program and plot a course forward.
The commitment of this collaboratory includes:
- A pre-session intake survey
- The first in-person opening meeting at Co.act Detroit on April 22
- One videoconference per month in May, June, and July (dates chosen together by the group)
- The in-person closing meeting in Detroit in late August
- A followup survey in fall 2020
To keep the program intimate and engaged, we’re limiting participants to one person per organization. In the case of large organizations (e.g. universities), one person from each funded project may apply. Applications are due March 11 at 5 p.m.
DATA VISUALIZATION TRAINING SERIES
Data is everywhere, but it’s too often communicated with dry reports and boring charts. Say goodbye to bland—we’re partnering with Pivot Data Design to help you become a data viz wizard! These trainings will teach you to harness the power of data through effective storytelling and eye-catching, engaging visualization techniques. Participants will finish the series feeling more confident in their ability to gain and maintain the attention of clients, funders, and community partners.
This 90-minute webinar will dig into the anatomy of data design, including color, arrangements, graphics, and text. Also covered: equitable data presentation and data visualization’s role in social change. Participants will walk away with tools to better design their data and better communicate with clients, community stakeholders, and colleagues. Register here.
Think Space, Lansing
Make a one-pager that people will actually want to read. Participants will build a document from scratch, learning how to present data with the best method out there—practice. Participants will be expected to have attended or watched the March 23 webinar. Application information coming soon.
We know that our grant partners often need to work with external consultants to effectively evaluate their programs, but choosing a consultant can be overwhelming. To help with this process, we’ve prepared a current listing of qualified consultants available to provide evaluation services to health-oriented organizations in Michigan.