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The Role of Data

Last week I published The Death of Program Evaluation, highlighting my firm belief that evaluation as it is today needs to change and evolve. Program evaluation is often not forward looking, over-focused on statistical proof, and actually undermines program improvement. The post sparked a debate across twitter, the website, and…

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When Algorithms Run the Government

Eric Loomis stood before a judge as he was handed down a six year sentence for “eluding the police.” During sentencing, the judge referenced an algorithm that showed Mr. Loomis was at a high risk for committing another crime and said it was a factor in his decision to give…

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The Death Of Evaluation

Is program evaluation dying? This question has been swirling around my head the last few months. I don’t mean to imply that programs should stop evaluating their outcomes. I just find that the current framework of traditional, social science driven program evaluation is frankly not embracing the possibilities of today’s…

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Dealing Your Own Best Hand (Unlocking Data From Silos)

We’re now far along into the narrative on how data will “change the way we live and work.” Further, that narrative is beginning to develop into more than an abstract promise, as we see examples and case studies chronicled regularly in such sources as The Harvard Business Review and the…

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We Need More Data Talent

  We need more data talent in the nonprofit sector. Data has the power to revolutionize our organizations yet we lack the workforce to launch the revolution. So where should this workforce come from? There are two strategies we can employ to increase the data talent in the sector; attract…

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The Market for Nonprofit Lemons: Andrew Means on Transparency in the Social Market

I’m not going to bury the lede. I think the nonprofit sector has too many ineffectual organizations with too many resources. I think it’s a problem when the quality of impact isn’t correlated with the quantity of dollars donated. But to get us all to my point of frustration we’re…

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Why This Data Nerd Isn’t Sold on Effective Altruism

The Effective Altruism cadre wants to tell you where to donate your money. They claim these recommendations are based on rationality, effectiveness, and efficiency and that any thinking person would agree with their rankings. It is easy to believe they have unlocked the secret to making the world a better…

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Better is Good Enough: Putting Imperfect Data to Good Use

Math is nice isn’t it? That feeling of getting the right answer. 1 + 1 = 2. There is no other answer. It’s so clear. Something is either correct or incorrect. It’s not left open to interpretation. Our first exposure to numbers is usually this kind of simple mathematics. We…

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Does legal status matter?

Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to use the legal structure of an LLC for his philanthropic endeavors has been making headlines for the last several months. When he sold $95m worth of his shares in June the storm started again with Wired saying “ He’s No Hero Yet ” and The Chronicle…

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Do Good Data: Revolutionizing the Social Sector

  On April 27th, the Chicago Hyatt Regency ballroom began filling up with 900 people from 20 countries and nearly every state. They were gathering for two days of learning, community, and nerdery at the fourth annual Do Good Data conference .   When I started Do Good Data three…

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