The creative tension of experimentation and rigor. New programs planned with discipline and new methods for established programs. Cost conscious test-driven project development. Managing evolution and revolution.

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein

Metrics based on logic models. Nonprofit "business intelligence" driven by your programs, not technology. Acquiring, displaying, communicating, and applying the right numbers. A commitment to evidence.

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.” — Bertrand Russell

An accurate and deep intuitive understanding. Disciplined thinking and shared understanding. Theories of Change and Logic Models. Rigorous, testable project plans. Toward the learning organization.

“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Whole systems thinking. Leveraging networks, both inside and outside the organization. Respecting barriers and managing change. Testing models. Decisions based on evidence. The right information to the right people at the right time. Think big, start small.

"It's easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date." — Roger von Oech

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Does Evidence Matter to Grantmakers? Report Available for Pre-Order at Steep Discount

DEMG draft3smOne of the weightiest reports we’ve published in years is now on a countdown to publication. Does Evidence Matter to Grantmakers? Data, Logic, and the Lack thereof in the Largest U.S. Foundations will be published soon. You can place a pre-order today at a steeply discounted price.

This report is the culmination of a year’s worth of research on the role of evidence-based practice in the grantmaking of the largest foundations in the United States. We wanted to open new doors in this field, including the use of modern techniques such as data mining and semantic analysis. We were similarly interested in a focus on behavioral (rather than self-reported) data, such as published documents and grantmaking decisions. These are methods that we’ve applied for years in other fields and we felt that their application to this particular field was long overdue.

The report itself includes analyses of each of the individual foundations in our sample, as well as in-depth exploration of the field as a whole. It includes comprehensive descriptions of our methods, to help hold us accountable and to help empower other practitioners. It will be of value to grantmakers themselves, of course, but it will also be of value to those who want to understand those grantmakers, whether for writing grants or deepening our knowledge of the field. We look forward to seeing what you think and discovering what you’re able to do with this work.

How to Win the Grantwriting Game: A Seminar January 18, 2012 on Mastering Standards of Evidence

The research staff of The Gilbert Center have spent much of the last year investigating the language and practices of the largest foundations in the U.S. in regard to this question: How do grantmakers expect their grantees to prove the effectiveness of their programs? We realized that, if we combined those very specific insights with the planning and evaluation framework we’ve developed over the last fifteen years, we could offer a fundraising seminar that could really change things for the people who participated.

We’re now ready to announce that seminar. How to Win the Grantwriting Game: Mastering Standards of Evidence in these Demanding Times will be held online on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. We’ll teach you how to inoculate yourself against hidden “gotchas”, how to set up a framework for writing multiple grants, how to make rigorous grantwriting less of a burden, and most importantly, how to use the knowledge that we’re sharing to write proposals that are genuinely hard to resist.

We’re limiting registration so that we have a chance of handling Q & A, so register early. Also, we’ve priced the seminar very aggressively for multiple participants. It will make a huge difference for you if you send at least two people.

Exploring Email Marketing: An i4 Seminar on Discovering Actionable Communication Patterns « The Gilbert Center

There are some people who didn’t get a chance to see our recent seminar, based on the case study we did on email marketing. Rather than just offer the recording, I’ve decided to revise the seminar a bit to focus more on the application of some of these ideas. The revised seminar — Exploring Email Marketing: An i4 Seminar on Discovering Actionable Communication Patterns — will be offered for free on November 30, 2011 at 12:15- 12:45 (PDT).

Measuring the Value of a Web Page: An i4 Seminar on Backlinks as a Relevance Metric

I would like to invite you to attend our next free seminar: Measuring the Value of a Web Page: An i4 Seminar on Backlinks as a Relevance Metric. We’re taking a slightly different approach from the last three seminars that were based on case studies. This time, we’re going to assume that you have read or at least skimmed the case study. We’ll split our time between providing another view of that content and, more importantly, teaching you how to apply some of the methods we used. The seminar will be held on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, from 12:15 to 12:45 Pacific Time. Register soon. Pass the word. It’s just 30 minutes, but it will be packed with value.