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Successful Use of Mixed-Method Design for Project Evaluation

A number of our evaluation projects are community based, and at times grants are funded to unite community agencies, so they can work more closely together to achieve their goals. How do you determine how well organizations are collaborating? How do you improve their collaboration? As a result, we're always looking for evaluation tools that are straightforward and provide complete, easily interpretable results.In their 2009 study, Cross and colleagues1 evaluated interagency collaboration using a mixed-method design, which is not an easy task. They approached it from a variety of perspectives, and incorporated qualitative and quantitative data that included network analysis. To completely evaluate this mixed-use approach, they:Held focus groups (qualitative) to determine agency classifications and linkagesCollected ratings of linkage (quantitative): networking, alliance, partnership, coalition, collaboration, and no contact.Combined the information...

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Paying for what works

In February, President Obama proposed the use of social impact bonds for seven pilot programs to elicit better results from social services. In an effort to reduce support for programs that are not effective, social impact bonds would create accountability for programs to succeed. Specifically, nonprofits, particularly foundations, would pay for the programs up front with the support of the government. The nonprofit and government would agree on performance measures used to evaluate the program's success. If, several years later, those performance measures determine that the program is a success, the government would repay the nonprofit, and possibly provide interest with the repayment. This would reduce the burden of taxpayers' funds being utilized to back ineffective programs.The implementation of social impact bonds could open doors for the role of evaluation...

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Focus groups

Ahh..the focus group! This is perhaps one of the most well-known evaluation methods. What makes focus groups so popular? First, a focus group is typically a small group of people (<10) who are guided through a structured conversation by a facilitator (likely the evaluator in this case). The evaluator will work with stakeholders to identify who should be a part of the focus group, the purpose of the focus group, and what questions should be asked.A strength of focus groups is that they are often a low cost approach that allows group members to provide information about at topic in a way that the resulting information will likely be richer than if only a single person was interviewed. However, focus groups can't be used for pre/post comparisons or when confidentiality...

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What constitutes a good evaluation?

After a bit of a hiatus from the blog, we are happy to be back!  We plan to post a new blog entry each month and hope our entries incite some discussion among you in the comments section. So to get things rolling, we have a question to pose to you...

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Understanding Value

Predictions of when the full economic recovery will occur change frequently. For example about two months ago, I was reading The Wall Street Journal (August 14, 2009) and a couple of their articles about the economy were striking.For the first time in recorded history the US is not the first country to lead the global economy back into the black. Countries like China and Europe seem to be showing signs of recovery before the US. Europe in particular is reporting a rebound in retail sales, unlike the US. Now that time has passed it seems like the recovery overseas will be slower than initially anticipated.However there is still the issue of what is driving the shifted recovery?The US may have changed its spending perspective, while other countries are resuming spending....

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Social Networking Stratagies

I recently attended a conference that discussed the pros and cons of technology to my work. A consistent topic of discussion was how virtual communications such as e-mail and social networking help or hinder face-to-face communication. People had varying opinions, but it was clear that people didn't expect these virtual forms of communication to become less popular or cease to be used. What was clear was that people needed to remain conscious of their choices regarding the use of technology.Then I saw an article on CNN about a guy who was laid off from AIG and used his social networking skills to start his own company to help people find jobs. Intrigued, I wasn't sure what made this new job site better than a site like Monster or TheLadders....

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Using Technology to Reach Your Customers

Price isn't the deciding factor anymore it's [customer] service was a statement made by someone in the industry in an article on CNN.com about customer service horror stories and consumers' new technologically savvy approaches for getting good service. For example, one woman found a Comcast executive through Twitter and got her cable fixed almost instantly. Others have used blogs to share their customer service horror stories with millions of people instantly, which in some cases led to the resolution of their problem by the company under question.I find this use of technology very intriguing, and it raises lots of questions for how businesses function. We've all heard about being cautious about what you put on social networking sites for public view, as the information may be seen by an employer....

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Using Loyalty to Pry Your Customer Out of Their Hole…or Home.

In addition to a waning economy there is also a shift occurring that is requiring businesses to be as technologically savvy as possible. One example is what is happening to major newspapers. Recently I heard that 14 newspapers across the company are shutting their doors or turning to digital media outlets only. Another business sector being hit is video rental stores. The large chains like Blockbuster are certainly being hit by Netflix, which is taking over the once brick-and-mortar market. But what is happening to the small independent chains? Some of these business owners are prepared to do whatever it takes to maintain their niche market.For example, an article on CNN noted that one such store owner moved his shop to a more artsy district to be in closer proximity...

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Listening to your customers IS the bottom line.

GM is apparently not the only company with an identity crisis, as CNN reports that Dell is trying to respond to low earnings too. It seems that the company has run into trouble because they haven't diversified into other product areas like leading competitors, so when their primary market of hardware sales dropped, so did Dell. This sounds like an issue of not knowing what your customers want, but it is suggested that Dell should take a hint based on its competitorâs' approaches, which seem to be stylish (Apple) or affordable (Taiwan companies).OK, so if we come up with something stylish and affordable that'll sell right? Well, maybe.What isn't being asked is why customers spend more for Apple but also apparently need affordable options from Taiwan. Could it be...

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Customer Satisfaction and Healthcare

I recently ready an article about "mystery patients" in Modern Healthcare. Apparently some companies are hiring people to pose as patients in order to get a handle on customer satisfaction in a healthcare setting. The idea is modeled after "mystery shoppers" who show up in restaurants or other retail establishments, and provide reports on many aspects of the experience.I'm wondering if this is a good idea in the healthcare sector. On the one hand, you could find out how long a person has to spend in the waiting room before they see a doctor. The problem is, this is just one person's experience. If the office is backed up  because of an emergency, or especially slow that day, it can give you inaccurate information about patient wait times. And how...

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