On Tuesday, February 5th, GBEN and Northeastern University’s Public Evaluation Lab (NU-PEL) co-hosted a panel on Impact Evaluation. This was the first GBEN event of 2019 and the first event co-sponsored with NU-PEL. The event saw the greatest turnout in the history of GBEN with 66 attendees!
The panel featured five local internal and external evaluation leaders who have recently undergone randomized-control trial (RCT) or quasi-experimental impact evaluations.
The five panelists were:
More and more, non-profits must demonstrate impact in order to ensure their ability to grow and innovate. The purpose of the panel discussion was to explore what drives non-profits to engage in an impact evaluation, how to choose methodology, and lessons learned about communicating results.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the engaging panel discussion:
Methodological Rigor vs Reality
Several of the panelists discussed the push-and-pull between ideal methodological rigor and what is actually possible and/or ethical for programs. In particular, Ms. Britt and Mr. Nichols-Barrier spoke to being able to do or not do randomization based on program over-subscription. On the flip side, Ms. Goldblatt Grace and Professor Farrell from My Life My Choice shared a powerful anecdote about overcoming skepticism to their project’s rigorous methodology to allow a research assistant to be present at the mentor-mentee match sessions.
Organizations Conduct Impact Evaluations for Lots of Reasons
The motivating factors behind the decision to evaluate impact are diverse. Organizational values, political context, and funders can all play a role in the decision to conduct an evaluation as well as decisions around study methodologies.
Several of the panelists shared helpful tips about communicating results, specifically going beyond sticking them in a report that few people read. Ms. Britt shared a strong example of Year Up planning a year-long plan for communicating parts of their results throughout the whole organization, including a big celebratory kick-off event.
GBEN would like to thank the five panelists for being a part of this incredible event as well as NU-PEL for co-hosting. Be on the look-out for future co-hosted events with NU-PEL!