Dispatched to China
Over the past several years I’ve had the privilege of splitting my time between Inciter (until recently, CRC) — approximately half time each as an evaluator and as program staff at an arts and human services nonprofit, Make Studio. Throughout this time, I’ve found that wearing two hats and having two sets of experiences to draw from has helped me to work smarter and better (only sometimes harder), for the benefit of my evaluation clients and program recipients.
On the occasion of the recent launch of our new name, Inciter, I wanted to share an experience that I had this spring that reflects how my two working worlds can collide. And, gives an idea of how we at Inciter pride ourselves on applying our “evaluation-in-the-real-world” lens wherever we are. Putting this into practice enables our staff to meet Inciter’s aim of helping clients change the world by using data to tell the story of their impact, raise funds, and advocate for social change.
This past April, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Beijing and Shanghai on behalf of Make Studio. While there, I learned a lot about how nonprofits and foundations operate in China and came away with stuffed — literally, with food-food and food for thought about program design and evaluation.
A few years ago, Denise Deng completed a thorough and fascinating review of program evaluation trends in China, which you can read here, and what I observed and learned during my trip was concordant with Deng’s analysis. Long story short, interest in program evaluation has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades, in line with a dramatic increase in grassroots non-profit organizations, international NGO activity, and governmental changes in China. Further, rapid economic developments and shifts in Chinese society has led to unprecedented personal wealth accumulation such that individuals have been able to invest and donate to nonprofits, as well as volunteer for, organizations like never before.
With that in mind, I invite you to navigate over to Make Studio’s blog, Faves Saved, and read about my trip, which provided me with an unforgettable case study, in action, of a Chinese nonprofit with distinct evaluation needs.
Thanks for coming along with me to China! Zàijiàn!