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Thank you so much Kristen Degan and colleagues at Sharp Insight, LLC for sharing your process of adapting the Funding Web and Motivation Touchstone DEF tools for your evaluation work with and for nonprofits.

Kristen first used the funding web to guide an internal conversation about how to incorporate equity into their work and processes. In her words, “The funding web led to great internal discussion as we discussed the stakeholders to include, the arrows linking stakeholders, and the narrative around the relationships.”

Sharp Insight ended up adding a fourth colored arrow in their funding web to show the dissemination of reporting as different from data sharing as a way to start planning for their communications and distribution strategy from the outset. As Kristen said,

“Our engagement with clients is often prescribed by their funding or internal needs. However, reporting is where we, as consultants, share the story. We believe that explicitly planning for dissemination of reporting to stakeholders — particularly individuals who provided the data — is an important way to increase equity. And we can, as part of our reporting, create visual summaries that are easy to share — via email, a website post, or a handout.”

What was the result of staff conversations and trying out the DEF tools internally?

Sharp Insight developed a guide for staff on the process of a) doing a funding web exercise with or for clients and b) incorporating those insights into a motivation touchstone statement when creating a stakeholder/funding/evaluation team statement to be included in evaluation plans, tools, and reports. Now, sometimes they go through the process internally and present results to clients, and other times they work with the DEF tools with the clients.

As well, the process provided an opportunity for Kristen and her colleagues to renew their commitment to engaging an evaluation team whenever possible in a data collection process. While they have worked with evaluation teams for many years, walking through the funding web helped them visualize the important role of the evaluation team in the equity framework — reenergizing our commitment to working with these teams.

Their evaluation teams are composed of stakeholders with a vested interest in the project and its outcomes. These stakeholders may include: a single staff member of a nonprofit or, for very large organizations, staff that represent divisions/departments/positions; Board members; clients or service recipients; community members or other partners in the work; and, funders. Sharp Insight tries to encourage their partners to select evaluation team members that will represent the diversity of the experience that is important for the work. This could be based on geography, professional experience, age, language spoken, race/ethnicity, gender, perspective or interest, etc.
Kristen has found that because what the DEF tools require is relatively simple and straightforward, each tool provides a way to help focus the conversation. In her words,

“Projects are complex and exceptions are many. But the tools provide a structure and a framework for discussing these complexities. To use another term from the framework, the tool is a “touchstone” that we can come back to during the conversations to keep us on track.”