LAWG Week: Elizabeth Runkle and Dayna S. Alexander on the Atlanta Nonprofit Scene

Welcome to Atlanta! We are Elizabeth Runkle, a Senior Consultant and Regional Manager with the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and Dayna S. Alexander, Evaluation Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH).

Atlanta has a wide variety of nonprofits from large international relief organizations to small arts focused community based organizations. In 2015, the Atlanta Metro Area had four of the top 20 nonprofit organizations in the country including two in downtown Atlanta – the Boys and Girls Club National Headquarters and the American Cancer Society. Atlanta is also home to several nationally known place-based collaborations between nonprofits, private and public partners. Located in Atlanta’s historic Mechanicsville neighborhood, Dunbar Learning Center brings together several nonprofits in one location that focus on children birth to 5th grade along with their parents. This collaboration has brought together the Annie E Casey Foundation’s Civic Site, Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Center, the Center for Working Families, Westside Works and many others. Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood has brought funders, nonprofits, government and private partners together to change the landscape and economics of this neighborhood.

Hot tips, lessons learned, and rad resources for those interested in conducting evaluation work with nonprofits include:

Hot Tip #1: Develop a realistic timeline. Because nonprofit settings have many competing priorities and some staff have limited knowledge of evaluation, it is vital to develop a timeline for evaluation tasks. This helps with accountability, organizing the work, and alleviates stress for both the evaluator and the nonprofit.

Hot Tip #2: Develop evaluation questions based on resources and priorities. The evaluator and nonprofit staff members should develop clear evaluation questions and prioritize them according to the evaluation purpose and the resources available. 

Lessons Learned: Communicate effectively and efficiently with the nonprofit team. Provide weekly updates with the nonprofit staff members about the status of assigned tasks, challenges, and their needs. An open line of communication will help build trust, improve teamwork, and help reach consensus. 

Lessons Learned: Be flexible. When working with nonprofits it is important to adapt to new priorities and respond quickly. This demonstrates to nonprofit staff members that you are committed to the assigned project and the evaluation will be successfully conducted.

Rad Resource:

Georgia Center for Nonprofits works to build thriving communities by helping nonprofits succeed. through a powerful mix of advocacy, solutions for nonprofit effectiveness, and insight building tools, GCN provides nonprofits, board members and donors with the tools they need to strengthen organizations that make a difference on important causes throughout Georgia.


We’re looking forward to October and the Evaluation 2016 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to

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