Strategies to Achieve Social Impact
TCC Group Strategy Programs/Grants Management Capacity Building Evaluation

Evaluation

At TCC Group, measurement for learning defines our philosophy and approach to evaluation — learning that enhances capacity and effectiveness, improves programs, and leads to greater social impact. We not only strive to track the "bottom line," but also to evaluate and learn from the process of getting there. Our work supports data collection across a spectrum and includes assessing an organization's needs related to its leadership, management, adaptive, and technical capacity. The real value of measurement, we believe, is in its intended purpose and deliberate use. Based on our extensive experience, we are able to understand the unique challenges and opportunities in the sector. We bring the perspective of our evaluation expertise, broad experience, and the enthusiastic commitment to get the job done right. Our core services include:

  • Evaluation Planning & Framework Design – The backbone of any good evaluation or measurement system is a strong evaluation plan. For this reason many of our clients will start by engaging us to guide them in evaluation framework design/planning. In these projects we design what ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and learning will look like within an organization or program. We generally think about evaluation planning as having four concrete steps:
    1. Mapping of a theory of a program (perhaps by a logic model, theory of change, or another visual tool);
    2. Creating evaluation questions to test the theory;
    3. Noting data sources and indicators that could answer each evaluation question; and
    4. Writing an evaluation plan that notes what data will be measured, by whom, how often, and how information will be shared.
    Key questions answered by these projects include: What are you trying to achieve, and how will you measure it?
  • Retrospective Evaluation - Perhaps what most people think of when thinking of evaluation, retrospective evaluations are summative evaluations that look at what a program or grant initiative has achieved to date. These projects often have concrete goals that are used to benchmark the progress made. TCC is well-versed in a range of evaluation methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, that we employ to help our clients answer those summative questions about their program.
    Retrospective evaluations help to answer: Did we achieve our objectives? Why or why not?
  • Formative Evaluation - Formative evaluation projects are extremely learning-focused and aim to help clients get the real-time feedback they need to make better strategic decisions while implementing their programs. This can happen formally (e.g., biannual or annual written reports on progress and process) or informally (e.g., through monthly check-in calls to see what we’ve learned as observers of a program in action). Our team uses a range of evaluation methodologies that we tailor based upon the specific questions to be answered and the specific learning culture of our clients.
    Formative evaluations address: How are we doing? How can we improve?
  • Developmental Evaluation – In situations of complex, non-linear, or evolving work, we use developmental evaluation as a way to help organizations understand what outcomes are being reached, how the broader system is having an influence on the work, and how programs should adapt in response to these factors. To aid in this analysis, TCC often uses our research and development (R&D) approach to understand what’s working, for whom, and under what conditions.
    In developmental evaluations we look at: What’s happening? Where do we go next?
  • Data Diagnostics & Management – We hear from many organizations that knowing how to prioritize what should be measured is one of the biggest challenges. In a data diagnostic project, we work with our client to assess the landscape of the data that they are currently collecting, understand the extent to which existing data is used, and undergo a data prioritization process focused on stakeholder needs and use. These projects help to streamline and manage data within an organization to ensure that data is timely, relevant, and usable.
    Key questions answered by these projects include: What data are we collecting? What data system do we need?
  • Evaluation Capacity Building - Capacity-building projects help organizations develop the evaluative skills necessary to enable environments of continuous learning and improvement. We work with nonprofits, foundations, and corporate citizenship programs to design capacity building initiatives - for themselves or for work with their partners - that may take the form of workshops, peer learning, toolkit development, or technical assistance and coaching. The work centers on not only building individual skills, but also developing a culture that fosters and leverages strong evaluative thinking. In addition to projects with capacity building as a primary objective, we also thread capacity building into many of our projects by integrating clients into evaluation design and implementation processes whenever possible.
    These projects address: How can we increase our own capacity to understand and use evaluation?
  • Research – At times we are asked by clients to assist them in developing a deeper understanding of a specific topic in order to guide decision-making. Research projects can include field or literature reviews, benchmarking, or original research, and generally focus on a few big questions within a specific content area. Clients often use this research to inform strategic planning, program design, evaluation strategy, or partnership development.
    Research projects may answer questions such as: What are others doing in a field? How is this relevant to my organization/program?
  • Evaluation Program & Grants Management - In this role, TCC Group staff serves as evaluation program officers, grant managers, or outsourced evaluation specialists and provide evaluation services for a foundation or nonprofit that does not have enough staff capacity on its internal evaluation team or for an organization that wants an external expert to serve as its evaluation staff. We may create RFPs to conduct evaluations, design evaluation components of grant management systems, help write evaluation sections of grants, or create shared metrics.
    These projects can help answer questions such as: How can we have an evaluation function without hiring an evaluation officer?
  • Organizational Assessment – Many times organizations are looking to understand their capacity beyond a specific program and throughout their organization as a whole. TCC has the ability to complete a more objective organizational assessment that looks comprehensively at an organization’s capacity in a variety of areas, and is often used to inform capacity-building work. We use our bench of existing tools – including the Core Capacity Assessment Tool and the Foundation Core Capacity Assessment Tool – as well as create robust new mechanisms and do thorough financial reviews, document reviews, and interviews when necessary to create a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s capacity.
    Organizational assessments help an organization answer: Do we have the capacity we need to do our work?

Contact Jared Raynor, Director of Evaluation, to discuss which of our evaluation services may best support you.

See our results.

Learn more with our thought leadership in evaluation.

In Practice

Over eight years, TCC provided formative data to Treatment Action Group (TAG) to help them understand the impact of their global work in TB and HIV. As part of that, TCC Group evaluated the quality and impact of their Advocacy Workshops, developed case profiles of individual activists, interviewed global stakeholders, and assessed the effectiveness of TAG publications and advocacy. Using TCC Group’s findings, TAG published "Empowering Communities for TB Advocacy," a report providing activists, policy makers, and donors with lessons learned when integrating tuberculosis and HIV activities into their advocacy work.

The Wikimedia Foundation partnered with TCC Group to think through how to build capacity for its diverse set of membership organizations. TCC Group developed a set of tools that the Foundation and chapter organizations could use to evaluate their capacity in a range of areas including fundraising, inclusivity, and programming. TCC Group’s Wikimedia Foundation Case Study provides more in-depth insight into the challenges faced and solutions developed.

Deaconess Foundation has long been a deep investor in capacity building through its "Deaconess Impact Partnership," a major, multi-year investment of capacity-building resources, including grants, technical assistance, and peer support to agencies serving low-income children and families in the St. Louis metropolitan area. TCC Group engaged in a formative evaluation with the Foundation for several years to guide changes in the program, as well as a yearly outcomes review to assess the ultimate impact of the grants. The evaluation also served the organizations directly – acting as their evaluative thought partners and providing real-time feedback on how the process was developing.

After publication of the Institute of Medicine Report "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health," the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and AARP launched a national campaign to implement the report’s recommendations. TCC Group has served as the formative evaluator to the Campaign since 2011 and provides ongoing feedback on strategies to improve the Campaign, documentation of best practices and lessons learned, and "just in time" feedback to project stakeholders, so that findings can be incorporated to improve the ongoing Campaign.

TCC Group provides guidance to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in the evaluation of its strategic pillars in both its global and New Jersey-based grantmaking. Additionally, TCC Group has worked directly with J&J grantees in several grantee-specific evaluation capacity building projects. Through these projects, TCC Group helps grantees to develop their own evaluation frameworks, and establish feasible and meaningful data collection and reporting processes.