• Never Endure Another Data Migration

    Posted on November 29, 2020 | by Jacob Joseph

    We need a new data system. The stuff of dreams and nightmares. Whether you arent storing the right data in your system, or you cant get what you want out of it, you either have considered a new data system, or you were in the process of implementing one. So you got everyone on board, figured out what you needed out of a data system, did an inventory of your current systems, lined up the funding, and now its taking twice as long and costing twice as much as you planned.

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  • Understanding Data Integration

    Posted on October 29, 2020 | by Jacob Joseph

    We need a new data system. The stuff of dreams and nightmares. Whether you arent storing the right data in your system, or you cant get what you want out of it, you either have considered a new data system, or you were in the process of implementing one. Decide how to spend your technology budget is always hard. And moving to a new system will inevitably involve a huge cost because migrating your existing data to a new system is very labor-intensive.

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  • Why Nonprofits Fail to Make the Most of Their Donors

    Posted on August 5, 2020 | by Taj Carson

    **You love your donors and you want them to love you. ** You craft amazing campaigns. Powerful messages, moving stories, carefully constructed asks. You believe in your mission and you are very good at connecting with others who do, too. But you arent getting the donations that you need, and you keep losing donors. Its like your donations are a leaky bucket. You work harder and harder, create more campaigns, reach out to more people, but you cant keep the donors youve got or raise as much as you need to.

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  • What's Better, Faster, and Cheaper than a New Data System?

    Posted on April 28, 2020 | by Jacob Joseph

    We need a new data system. The stuff of dreams and nightmares. Whether you arent storing the right data in your system, or you cant get what you want out of it, you either have considered a new data system, or you were in the process of implementing one. So you got everyone on board, figured out what you needed out of a data system, did an inventory of your current systems, lined up the funding, and then coronavirus.

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  • Four Ways to Further Your Data Analysis Right Now

    Posted on April 14, 2020 | by Taj Carson

    At the risk of adding more peer pressure to be productive right now, I wanted to propose to those of you responsible for the data maturity of your organization (this includes CTOs, CIOs, database managers, data analysts, and other data nerds) that there ARE things you can do right now, in the middle of all this, that will make your organization stronger when its all over. You might be feeling like you cant possibly move forward with anything data-related, because of the uncertainty ahead.

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  • How to Feel Better. Just a Little.

    Posted on March 24, 2020 | by Taj Carson

    Ive always been fascinated with neuroscience and how our brains work. Mine, especially. So last year, because I apparently cant stop going back to school, I got a certificate in brain-based coaching from the Neuroleadership Institute. What I learned there about how our brains work got me thinking about how they are responding to the current situation with COVID-19. I thought it might be helpful to share some reasons why you may be feeling the way you are (aside from the obvious) and present just a few things you could do to help your brain calm down, and to help you and everyone around you feel a bit better while getting through this pandemic.

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  • When Is Building a Form the Wrong Answer?

    Posted on February 17, 2020 | by Taj Carson

    One of our core values here at Inciter is Get it Done. When our clients email us, we email them back. When they have a problem, whether its a messy data set or help thinking through their data strategy, we show up. So when a client that is using our data system asked me the other day to build a form for them, my first thought was, Youve got it!.

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  • Getting Your Data System to Play Well with Others

    Posted on August 5, 2019 | by Taj Carson

    Data integration isnt always a high tech solution. Sometimes, its more about just combining some new cutting edge tools, with your existing data management strategies, in order to create a system that pulls everything together. (And data systems can play well with others without having to tangle with any “playground bullies”, either.) One of our clients had a data integration challenge that we encounter almost every day. They were working with several partners to collect information about human trafficking victims throughout the county.

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  • EYEO 2019

    Posted on July 4, 2019 | by Taj Carson

    What is EYEO? EYEO is a festival held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I say festival because it involves not only top notch international speakers, but also things like karaoke, playing with arts and crafts, trying out virtual reality experiments, and going to cool places like Aria and the Machine Shop. Its changed a bit over the years, as it featured more information visualization and interactive art speakers early on, versus more machine learning and artificial intelligence speakers in these last couple of years.

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  • How to Have Great Data: When People and Technology Both Do Their Part

    Posted on January 31, 2019 | by Taj Carson

    The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Getting Great Data Week. All posts on AEA365 this week are contributed by evaluators who came together to write about the theme of getting data that is accurate, timely and, most of all, useful. Our own Taj Carson contributed this timely post: https://aea365.org/blog/getting-great-data-week-how-to-have-great-data-when-people-and-technology-both-do-their-part-by-taj-carson/ We hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think!

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  • Evaluating Advocacy Efforts: How Do You Measure Social Change?

    Posted on December 21, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    So you read the last blog post in this series, about asking the right questions of your social change efforts, right? (You did, right? We know it’s been a minute.) If you did, you know that there is just as much strategy involved in deciding what data you need to collect as there is in carrying out the strategy itself! Its one thing (and a very important thing) to know what you want to collect and why.

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  • Get the Word out! Reaching Study Participants

    Posted on November 19, 2018 | by CRC

    by Angela Lao Back in the spring and summer, Inciter conducted focus groups in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. to gather feedback on marketing tools that were being developed by a client for ours for their public health campaign, which was focused on eating behaviors. As an intern at Inciter, I was tasked with helping to recruit participants for this project, and I was eager to find any method that would attract as many participants as possible.

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  • “Can I Have a Moment of Your Time?” Overcoming Survey Burn Out by Showing Value

    Posted on August 2, 2018 | by Dave Hatem

    Please be sure to go to the website on the bottom of the receipt to fill out our survey! If youve ever gone grocery shopping, eaten fast food, or shopped at a major retailer, youve heard these words spoken by a cashier at some point. In the age of big data, seemingly no venue is immune from solicitations to take a survey of some sort, be it online or in-person.

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  • We Need a Data Nerd

    Posted on July 24, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    Do you love colored pens? Making to do lists? Do you like the idea of working with social service programs that help make peoples lives better? Do you have a killer work ethic, but seek a relaxed work environment? Inciter could be for you, if. . . You are described by friends and co-workers as “kick ass,” in the nicest possible way. You are competent, creative, trustworthy, engaging, organized, and an all around people person.

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  • HIRING: DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

    Posted on July 15, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    At Inciter, we help clients measure impact, communicate, and fundraise through research, visualization, and data systems. Were proud of our exceptional research and evaluation expertise (to say nothing of our enthusiasm for color coding), and we use all of that to make research productive and even (dare we say) fun. Were not just a bunch of number crunchers sitting behind computers ready to throw data at people and send them on their way.

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  • Find Us at Inciter.io

    Posted on June 12, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    **Looking to measure your impact, communicate about it, and bolster your fundraising? We at Inciter can help you through research, visualization, and our new custom software, Incite. ** Inciters mission is to make it easy for nonprofit organizations and government agencies to harness data and use it to communicate findings to funders, stakeholders and staff. Inciter helps clients change the world by using data to tell the story of their impact, raise funds, and advocate for social change.

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  • Data. Driven.

    Posted on June 6, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    Those are two words you may not hear together a lot. And they are two words that are the underpinning of everything we do at Inciter. What do we do? We help clients thrive by measuring your impact, which helps you better communicate your value that in turn, bolsters your fundraising. Measure Impact. Maybe you have to conduct an evaluation as part of a grant that you received. Or, perhaps your Board has been asking about results, or your staff is starting to wonder how effective a program is.

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  • Enter, Inciter.

    Posted on June 5, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    Have you ever known just what to do to make a project work, but you couldnt find the right tools to make it happen? We’ve been there frustrated by data management software options because we didn’t love what we saw, so we built our own custom software - named Incite - to gather, manage, and report on data. Enter our company, Inciter. Inciters mission is to make it easy for nonprofit organizations, foundations, and government agencies to harness data and use it to communicate findings to funders, stakeholders and staff.

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  • We’ve Changed Our Name! We Are Now Doing Business as Inciter

    Posted on May 31, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    We have exciting news to share with you - weve changed our name! We are now doing business as Inciter. We are undertaking the same quality work, with the same great staff, and a fun new product Incite - which means expanded opportunities for all.< Established in 2003 as Carson Research Consulting, Inciter is still a small, woman-owned firm located in Baltimore, MD. When you work with Inciter, you continue to get a team of experienced researchers, evaluators, and custom software designers.

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  • How Your Data Can Tell a (True) Story

    Posted on April 19, 2018 | by CRC

    by Jill & Mandi Information graphics and visualization expert Alberto Cairo caused a bit of a stir last fall when he bluntly tweeted his opinion that data journalism and visualization should stop using the term storytelling. “Storytelling” is a term that ought to be abandoned in journalism, #dataviz, data, etc. It has no meaning and leads to the wrong mindset https://t.co/5cEv184UsD Alberto Cairo (@albertocairo) September 11, 2017 In the replies, he subsequently clarified that the word need not be abandoned if used properly, but should be considered problematic and approached with caution.

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  • Evaluating Advocacy Efforts: How Do You Measure Social Change?

    Posted on February 15, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    Here at CRC, we’re always fans of measuring the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. And that includes measuring advocacy efforts. You may think that measuring advocacy efforts and social change movements is impossible. It’s definitely true that it can be challenging to do because evaluating advocacy is very different from evaluating direct service work. The theory of change is going to be more complex, and it’s harder to identify the direct links from your advocacy activities to people’s responses.

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  • We are Hiring a Research Assistant!

    Posted on January 17, 2018 | by Taj Carson

    Do you love colored pens? Making to do lists? Do you like the idea of working with social service programs and nonprofits that help make peoples lives better? Do you have a killer work ethic, but seek a relaxed work environment? Carson Research Consulting could be for you, if. . . You are described by friends and co-workers as "kick ass," in the nicest possible way. You are competent, creative, trustworthy, engaging, organized, and an all-around people-person.

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  • Thank You and Happy New Year!

    Posted on January 16, 2018 | by CRC

    A Message From Team CRC All of us at CRC wish to send out a hearty **THANK YOU **and HAPPY NEW YEAR to our many clients, partners, collaborators, and friends. We thank you for helping our firm to have another successful year in 2017, in which we were honored to help organizations and agencies – large and small, local and national – to demonstrate and tell their stories of the important work they do.

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  • Why I Love Interactive Dashboards

    Posted on November 6, 2017 | by Sheila Matano

    by Sheila Data visualization involves the presentation of data in a graphical format with the goal of communicating complex information more clearly and efficiently to audiences. Effective visualizations make complex data more accessible, understandable, and usable. And sometimes even fun to look at! I like visualizing data because like many others, Im a visual learner. If you consider that 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual, and that the brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text, then you start to understand why visualizing complex data is beneficial in both research and evaluation.

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  • Work smarter, not harder, with Python

    Posted on November 2, 2017 | by Mandi Singleton

    by Mandi Here at CRC, weve been focused on working smarter, not harder, by utilizing different skills and adding new tools to our tool belt. One of those tools is Python, and it has been a lifesaver for streamlining our data processes, saving us time and increasing productivity. What is Python? Python is a simple, yet powerful programming language that is relatively easy to learn. It can be used for a variety of things, including to create practical programs that automate tasks on your computer, as a support language for software developers, and in web and internet development.

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  • Data Modeling 101: The What? Why? and When?

    Posted on October 26, 2017 | by Dana Ansari

    _by Dana _ What is a Data Model? In semi-technical terms, A data model is a set of symbols and text used for communicating a precise representation of an information landscape. (Hoberman, 2016, p.13). In laymans terms (i.e., my interpretation) a data model is similar to a blueprint used when building a house. It contains lines and shapes denoting the location of where the different rooms will be located, and where the different pipes and wirings will go, so that the builders can use it as reference during the construction of the house.

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  • Design & Evaluation: Craft Clarity

    Posted on September 21, 2017 | by Taj Carson

    by Taj This is the third and final post in a series about design thinking in evaluation. I’ve found that designers and evaluators grapple with similar issues, so the goal of this series is to share insights from the world of design that may help you think differently about data collection and visualization and, hopefully, start a broader conversation about what the world of social sciences can learn from the world of design.

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  • Tailoring Qualitative Methods to Evaluation Clients’ Needs

    Posted on July 31, 2017 | by CRC

    by Jill (Re-post from AEA365; see the original here.) At CRC Im the word nerd, implementing our qualitative projects. Like many evaluators, Ive had to translate academically-honed skills to the often faster-paced world of evaluation. A recent project for a county health departments substance abuse initiative provides an example of how I tailor qualitative methods to meet clients needs. Hot Tips Allot ample time for clarifying goals. As with all good research, methods choices flow from the question at hand.

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  • The Opioid Epidemic - When Prescriptions Become the Problem

    Posted on July 6, 2017 | by CRC

    by Sheila Matano [su_youtube url=“https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx7WLlJzrlw”] Recently, CRC has been working with several clients who are evaluating initiatives to combat substance misuse and abuse. In particular, these agencies have been concerned with how their local communities have been impacted by the problem of drug overdoses and opioid-involved deaths, which have markedly increased in the United States over the past decade (CDC.gov). More than six out of ten drug overdose deaths involve an opioid, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose (Rudd, Seth, & Scholl, 2016).

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  • How to Prove Your Youth Program is Rockin'

    Posted on June 21, 2017 | by Mandi Singleton

    by Mandi Singleton Are you passionate about making a difference in the lives of youth? Many of my clients are, and the time, effort, and money they put into creating killer programs is proof enough that they are invested in forming positive and meaningful experiences for the young people that they work with. BUT, how do program directors really know they are creating quality experiences for youth? How exactly is this measured?

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  • Design& Evaluation: Focus on Human Values

    Posted on January 15, 2017 | by Taj Carson

    This is the second post in a series about design thinking in evaluation. The goal of this series is to share insights from the world of design that may help you think differently about how you work and, hopefully, start a conversation about what the world of social sciences can learn from the world of design. If you missed Part 1 about radical collaboration, check it out here. This time around were focusing on another key idea in the design thinking world: human values.

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  • Tips & Tricks for Child Focus Groups, Part 2

    Posted on October 19, 2015 | by Mandi Singleton

    by Mandi Singleton (Note: this post is the second part of a two-part series.) As I mentioned in the my last blog post, one of my favorite things about my job at CRC is conducting focus groups. Focus groups with elementary school students can be the most challenging and the most fun for me as a focus group facilitator. Here in part two of my discussion of tips & tricks for doing focus groups with kids, I get into strategies that make for effective and enjoyable groups.

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  • Tips & Tricks for Child Focus Groups, Part 1

    Posted on September 15, 2015 | by Mandi Singleton

    by Mandi Singleton One of my favorite things about my job is conducting focus groups. I enjoy the opportunity it gives me to interact with people, capturing and learning from their thoughts and feelings about experiences theyve had. While at CRC Ive had the opportunity to facilitate a series of focus groups with elementary school students. Although many of my projects are education-related, I had never done a group with children so young before.

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  • What Breastfeeding in the U.S. Looks Like

    Posted on May 29, 2015 | by CRC

    CRC’s dataviz team recently completed a comprehensive and beautiful infographic documenting breastfeeding statistics in the United States. Our hope is that this infographic can play a part in spreading the word about this important issue. From a public health standpoint, the medical benefits of breastfeeding are well established.* Breast milk provides babies with all the necessary fats, proteins, and vitamins they need for healthy growth and development. Among other benefits, antibodies in breast milk can help babies fight infections and reduce the risk developing asthma and allergies.

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  • We LOVE Maps: Map out your summer!

    Posted on May 29, 2015 | by CRC

    As we’ve said in the past, we at CRC LOVE MAPS. They’re useful and (often) beautiful, helping us to make all kinds of decisions in research and daily life. Some of you have been following our interest in maps at the Baltimore DataMind blog, but to make sure more of our readers get to see that content, starting with this post we’re “folding” the BDM blog in here. So now, along with the evaluation news, data tricks, and dataviz tips you’ve come to expect from CRC’s blog, expect to learn more about making and using maps.

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  • A Word About Baltimore City's Snappy Budget Graphic....

    Posted on March 27, 2015 | by Taj Carson

    Infographics are all the rage. They are beautiful, engaging, and fun to look at. This one is no exception: At first glance, it looks like a lot of fun. The Finance Office has done something unexpected, which is trying to make understanding the budget of Baltimore City a bit easier by using data visualization. It is likely to be successful in that more people will look at this than might read a website that breaks out funding by categories, or talks about the property rate; but, it also leaves a lot to be desired.

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  • Data Visualization Predictions for 2015

    Posted on January 7, 2015 | by Sheila Matano

    By: Taj and Sarah Technology is always changing and evolving, and data visualization technology is no exception. While the term infographic was once unfamiliar to most people, fun visualizations are now regularly spotted on Facebook and Twitter feeds for both individuals and businesses. But just how much can we expect to see change within a year? In the spirit of the New Year, we are posting a few predictions on where we think data viz is headed in 2015 and beyond:

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave, October 2014

    Posted on October 20, 2014 | by CRC

    by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room fondly referred to as the bat cave where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here well be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

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  • What I did on my summer vacation

    Posted on September 25, 2014 | by CRC

    by Jill Scheibler Hint: It involved both literal and metaphorical roller coasters. Today with suntans fading and schools back in full swing it’s a few days into fall and I can definitely feel it! It’s gloomy outside and I’d like nothing more than to revisit my summer vacation. In my role at CRC I wear a number of different evaluation hats, and otherwise keep busy throughout the year teaching courses at a local university and directing a small arts nonprofit called Make Studio.

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  • Baltimore Data and Evaluation Meetup

    Posted on August 13, 2014 | by Taj Carson

    The Baltimore Data and Evaluation Meetup, recently created by CRC, is a group for people working at nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies who are interested in collecting and using data to improve their programs. Whether you are trying to figure out where to start, wrestling with providing data to funders, figuring out what outcomes you should be measuring, or analyzing and reporting on the data you already collect, this meetup is for you.

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  • CRC's 'Dumbphone' User

    Posted on August 7, 2014 | by CRC

    by Tracy Dusablon Each CRC staff person is assigned a month in which to write a blog this month it was my turn. At first, I was wracking my brain to come up with something instructive, like in my colleague Sarahs series Secrets from the Data Cave, or hip like Sheilas post about Data Driven Detroit. Instead, I decided to write about something that sets me apart from my co-workers, and tell a little story about our office in the process.

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  • CRC Takes Detroit

    Posted on July 21, 2014 | by Taj Carson

    By Sheila Matano This past week, Taj and I visited Detroit to meet with Erica Raleigh at Data Driven Detroit (D3) and also took some time to explore the city. Data Driven Detroit D3 is a National Neighborhood Indicators Partner (NNIP) and an affiliate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA). Created in 2008, D3 houses a comprehensive data system that includes current and historic demographic, socioeconomic, educational, environmental, and other indicators.

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave, May 2014

    Posted on June 9, 2014 | by CRC

    by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room fondly referred to as the bat cave where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here well be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave: February 2014

    Posted on February 27, 2014 | by CRC

    by Ashley Faherty Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room fondly referred to as the bat cave where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here well be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave: January 2014

    Posted on January 31, 2014 | by CRC

    by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room – fondly referred to as the bat cave— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave: December 2013

    Posted on December 20, 2013 | by CRC

    by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room – fondly referred to as the bat cave— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

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  • Out of School Time Programs in Baltimore City

    Posted on December 16, 2013 | by CRC

    by Sheila Matano The Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) recently released a newreport on schools in Baltimore City that provide out-of-school time activities. All the schools in the reports were funded under the Community Schools Initiative at the Family League of Baltimore City. One of the key outcomes for the OST programs was attendance; the report showed students who attended OST on a regular basis had a slightly higher school attendance rate than their peers who did not (95.

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave, November 2013

    Posted on November 25, 2013 | by CRC

    by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room – fondly referred to as the bat cave— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

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  • Secrets from the Data Cave, October 2013

    Posted on October 29, 2013 | by CRC

    Introducing. . . Secrets from the Data Cave _by Sarah McCruden _ Welcome to CRCs new monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! For those who dont know, the title references the room in our office where the data staff can geek out in an isolated setting that is fondly referred to as the bat cave. We will be offering you a sneak peek into this fascinating environment every month with the latest updates and tips on what were implementing here in the CRC data cave!

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  • Evaluation communication and audience considerations

    Posted on September 16, 2013 | by CRC

    by Dana Ansari During the brief time Ive worked as an evaluator, for various projects Ive had to report on different types of information in different formats and structures. Given that Ive had limited-to-no access to the actual databases for these projects, I typically have had to request needed information from the project staff members who have access to it. As a result, the data I receive is mostly in raw format, lengthy and complicated to understand at a glance.

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  • Theory-driven & process evaluation: The art of getting inside and beyond the “black box”

    Posted on September 16, 2013 | by CRC

    by Jill Scheibler Before working in program evaluation, I received education and training as a clinician, specifically as an art therapist. Through my work as an art therapist, which was based in a personal belief in and, more importantly, empirical observations supporting the mental health-promoting effects of making art, I became curious about how to demonstrate arts impacts to the general public (including dubious funders and policymakers) and found a lack of relevant research to back up what Id seen in practice.

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  • The Cryptic Problem of Encryption

    Posted on June 6, 2013 | by CRC

    by Sarah McCruden So youve compiled some raw data for your next big report, or, youve come across a few clients records that have errors that need to be addressed. If you need to share these tasks with a coworker, email is often the most convenient method for sharing: just attach and send! Sounds simple. But, have you ever wondered just how the email makes its way to the recipientand whether its really safe on its journey there?

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  • Guest Blog: Thinking like Aesop to Visualize Theory of Change

    Posted on May 14, 2013 | by CRC

    by Thomas Kelly, Jr. What are theories of change meant to do? As evaluators, we need to define what it is we are examining and measuringnaming outcomes, uncovering assumptions, describing cause and effect relationships, and articulating the pathway of change intended by the program implementers. This diagram of the logic and belief about how our efforts will achieve impacts is used to measure the progress of work, and to test the validity of what we really know about the world and our role in changing it.

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  • Pick up the Baby. Look at the Baby. Talk to the Baby.

    Posted on April 22, 2013 | by CRC

    by Taj Carson, PhD Last week, we were talking to a prominent early childhood expert. We were trying to map out the pathways for children to develop good reading skills by the time they reached third grade (no small task). We had factored in instructional techniques, summer reading programs, and attendance initiatives, all of which have clear connections to literacy in school-aged children. In looking at the things that predict school success from birth to five years of age, however, it became a lot harder.

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  • Reducing the Price of Hospital Readmission

    Posted on April 8, 2013 | by CRC

    by Tracy Dusablon The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program is part of the Affordable Care Act, which has ignited heated debates both for and against the program. The program aims to improve quality of care and lower costs by reducing hospital readmissions for Medicare patients. To accomplish this, hospitals are essentially dinged when patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, and these dings turn into financial penalties for the hospitals. As it currently stands, the penalty is one percent of hospital payments, and is set to increase to three percent by 2015.

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  • How to Recommend Ending a Program

    Posted on February 18, 2013 | by CRC

    There is no need to skirt the issueprograms being evaluated have justifiable concerns around what an evaluation report may do to the future of their program. Now, if all stakeholders have been honest with themselves from the beginning, it wont be entirely unexpected to learn that their program is or is not performing well. However, the evaluation report may be the very first time that the outcomes are displayed in such a concrete way.

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  • Guest Blog: Moneyball & adapting to a data driven world

    Posted on January 14, 2013 | by CRC

    by Meridith Polin The role of the evaluator is much like that of Peter Brand in the movie Moneyball (based on the book by Michael Lewis, a favorite author of mine). Peter Brands role as an economics whiz kid hired by the Oakland As was to help them figure out how to win. Using meaningful statistics, Peter and the General Manager Billy Beane, helped turn the game of baseball on its head by looking at data in a new way.

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  • Looking back and looking forward

    Posted on January 3, 2013 | by CRC

    Carson Research has had an exciting and productive 2012, and we’re thankful for our clients, friends, families, and evaluation colleagues, who were an integral part of our successes this year! The CRC Team, 2012 Of all the developments that have taken place, one of the most noticeable is the growth of our team, and the diversification of our skill set that has come along with our new team members. Looking towards the New Year, we’d like to share how each CRC staffer chose to complete the following statement:

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  • Nonprofit Organizations and Outcome Measurement

    Posted on October 1, 2012 | by CRC

    by Sheila Matano An article by Lehn Benjamin in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Evaluation explored the extent to which existing outcome measurement frameworks are aligned with the actual activities performed by nonprofit staff to ensure positive outcomes for their clients. Benjamins analysis of numerous measurement guides revealed that existing outcome measurement frameworks focus primarily on program activities completed and the changes in the users as a result of those program activities.

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  • Evaluation Use

    Posted on September 6, 2012 | by CRC

    Use of an evaluations findings (i.e., lessons learned) and process use (i.e., evaluation use that takes place before lessons learned are generated and feedback initiated) are two of the clearest, simplest examples of the uses for evaluations. (Fleischer and Christie (2009) offer other examples, but recognizing they dont have clear definitions, they wont be discussed here.) By now there is much agreement that there is a great deal of useful information generated during the evaluation process itself, information that could increase involvement and learning.

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  • Social Media and Evaluation

    Posted on August 16, 2012 | by CRC

    I must admit Im excited about todays post. Not because it gives us an excuse to indulge ourselves in a lot of unfocused social media (e.g. facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter) fun, but because of the opportunities and uses these tools can provide program evaluators. Not only have these platforms have provided us, as evaluators, with greater ease in gleaning resources (such as through the American Evaluation Associations facebook page) and communicating with clients and colleagues (via Twitter and our local evaluators LinkedIn group), but weve begun to see programs use of these platforms as an important piece of their evaluation stories.

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  • Understanding the "evidence" in "evidence-based" home visiting programs

    Posted on July 23, 2012 | by CRC

    A May 2012 New York Times Opinionator article reviewed the success of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) home visiting program. NFP is a program in which registered nurses visit with first time, high-risk pregnant women throughout their pregnancy and early motherhood. These nurses teach the women the importance of prenatal care, talk with them about the childcare and child development, and work with the mothers on appropriate parenting behaviors until the child is 2 years old.

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  • Experimental Design versus Applied Research Design in Evaluations

    Posted on July 18, 2012 | by CRC

    Experimental design, a major component of pure (i.e. basic) research is considered the gold standard for research. The premise of experimental design is that a group of participants are randomly assigned to treatment or intervention groups. This random assignment is intended to limit differences between groups. Additionally, the participant and/or experimenter are often blind to which group the participant belongs. With this type of design, you can effectively compare the outcomes across groups at the end of a program.

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  • Using Appreciative Inquiry for Evaluating Organizations

    Posted on March 19, 2012 | by CRC

    Typically our blogs focus on evaluation techniques that are specific to program evaluations. But what about the organizations executing the programs? Is there a way to evaluate an organization with the goal of improving how it functions? Coghlan and colleagues (2003) suggest that the appreciative inquiry method can be a constructive approach to evaluating the function of an organization. Appreciative inquiry is used more often in the private sector, but is being seen more and more as an evaluation approach with applications in the public sector as well.

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  • The Importance of Interpretation

    Posted on February 15, 2012 | by CRC

    The concept of evidence-based policy was examined in a recent article by Pawson and colleagues (2011).The authors discussed the current trend of “evidence-based everything” and the impact this approach can have on policy making.They examined the example of proposing a policy banning smoking in a car when there are children present and the difficulty in providing conclusive evidence to support the policy. Pawson and colleagues highlight the ongoing theme of their article in the following Donald Rumsfeld quote:

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  • The Success Case Method

    Posted on January 27, 2012 | by CRC

    If you want to know if your program’s participants mastered the objectives of the program, the Success Case Method might be for you. (See this report for a summary of this method). This approach involves focusing on those individuals who were either particularly successful or particularly unsuccessful at learning your program’s objectives. The approach is very purposeful, in that you don’t select a random sample of participants; you go to participants at both ends of the learner spectrum to gather information.

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  • Evaluations on a Shoestring

    Posted on January 24, 2012 | by CRC

    Having more demands on a program than a budget will allow was common well _before _the market went into decline. Today, programs have even fewer resources than several years ago, but they are still expected to maintain all documented aspects of their programs, including evaluation, which makes the need for efficiency highly critical. How do you carry out an evaluation on a tightly constrained budget? A common approach is to first have a discussion with the evaluator about the various evaluation designs that may be appropriate for this particular program.

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  • Managerial Training for Nonprofit Directors

    Posted on September 8, 2011 | by CRC

    A recent New York Times article by Stephanie Strom describes how two philanthropists, Pierre Omidyar of eBay and Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance, have each created a nonprofit organization to serve other nonprofits. The primary goal of The Omidyar Network and The Management Center is to provide business consulting services and human resource advice that will improve the managerial skills among directors of nonprofits. Often, leaders in nonprofit organizations are promoted based on their experience or content knowledge, without necessarily having the business skills needed to run the organization.

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  • Participatory Analysis

    Posted on July 15, 2011 | by CRC

    A report released by Public /Private Ventures in March 2011 titled “Priorities for a New Decade: Making (More) Social Programs Work (Better)," discussed a critical problem with the evaluation process for non-profit programs: Often times, evaluators do not collaborate with a program and therefore programs are passively evaluated. In addition, funders may not ask for the right evidence and an often impractical report is usually produced months later. This gives the non-profit no voice in the evaluation process and no time to make adjustments or improvements in their program.

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  • Successful Use of Mixed-Method Design for Project Evaluation

    Posted on May 13, 2011 | by CRC

    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 colleagues1evaluated interagency collaboration using a mixed-method design, which is not an easy task.

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  • Paying for what works

    Posted on April 4, 2011 | by CRC

    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.

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  • Focus groups

    Posted on March 1, 2011 | by CRC

    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.

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  • What constitutes a good evaluation?

    Posted on February 1, 2011 | by CRC

    _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… What constitutes a good evaluation? Think about that for a minute. Good questions? Good design? Good data? Good analysis?

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  • Understanding Value

    Posted on October 20, 2009 | by CRC

    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.

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  • Social Networking Stratagies

    Posted on July 10, 2009 | by CRC

    I recently attended a conferencethat 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.

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  • Listening to your customers IS the bottom line.

    Posted on March 4, 2009 | by CRC

    GM is apparently not the only company with an identity crisis, as CNN reportsthat 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 competitors' approaches, which seem to be stylish (Apple) or affordable (Taiwan companies).

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  • Go the Extra Mile

    Posted on October 31, 2008 | by CRC

    It’s a no-brainer, don’t you think? That a company should try just a little harder to make their customers feel special? And I don’t mean “flowers and candy” special, just a little something thoughtful. The kind of every day little things partners do for each other (if they have a successful partnership). As you may have noticed, the CRC website was hacked earlier this week. We had it back up and running within a couple of hours.

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  • Just like Sisyphus

    Posted on October 24, 2008 | by CRC

    A colleague of mine recently had a problem with her new Toshiba laptop. Actually, she had many problems lasting many months that resulted in the replacement of most of the components of the laptop before it would work properly. During her initial phone consultation with Toshiba’s help desk, she was told to restore the operating system. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had to do this, but it basically involves wiping out your entire hard drive, re-installing Windows, and re-installing all of your OTHER software as well.

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  • Oh, Verizon

    Posted on October 13, 2008 | by CRC

    Just the other day at the Baltimore Business Journal’s Best Places to Work Luncheon, I ran into a colleague who had recently moved. He had a horror story about Verizon. Just like many other people I have spoken to, and consistent with my own experience, Verizon delayed the connection of his new service, left him without service, and forced him to make literally more than a dozen calls to their customer service center.

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  • Wal-Mart? Really?

    Posted on September 29, 2008 | by CRC

    A recent Fast Company blog talked about Wal-Mart’s practices, which often force other smaller companies out of business. Wal-Mart has a bad reputation for how it treats its vendors and its unfriendly behavior toward employees. As a native of Arkansas, I remember the days when Sam Walton used to drive around in his beat-up old pick-up truck and they took the magazine _Tiger Beat _off the shelves because they thought it was too racy.

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  • If you don't care, at least fake it

    Posted on September 12, 2008 | by CRC

    The other day I had the illuminating experience of dealing with two car rental companies in the same day. I had booked a Zipcar for a trip to Richmond to meet with a client. I needed a reliable car service that I could catch from the train station in Washington, D.C. and the Zipcar system is really an amazing one. Zipcar has cars located strategically close to public transportation systems in urban areas and college towns.

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