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NPF TIG Week: P.U.S.H. Evaluation: Practice (Equity, Justice and Liberation) Until Something Happens by monique liston

Sending love to all of my evaluation friends worldwide! My name is monique liston and I am the Founder, Chief Strategist, and Joyful Militant at UBUNTU Research and Evaluation based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As our organization is working towards a decade of learning with organizations using evaluative thinking, we wanted to share three lessons for all evaluators working with philanthropy for a more equitable, just and liberated world. Our practice of equity, justice and liberation is never episodic but is always a constant persistent call to action in our work. We must practice the world we want to create in order for others to join us.

Lessons Learned

Evaluators can help philanthropy to see themselves as agents and sources of many of the problems their funding mechanisms are attempting to address.

Kimberlé Crenshaw in her amazing 2016 Ted Talk on Intersectionality reminds us that if you cannot name a problem, you cannot solve a problem. As philanthropic organizations are responsible for commissioning a lot of evaluation on work that their funding has contributed to, they must also realize that their existence is deeply connected to the ongoing oppressive and unjust systems nonprofits are working to address. When funders see themselves as agents and sources of the problem, they can develop intentional and meaningful relationships with their communities and evaluation can authentically serve as a learning opportunity not just an accountability or surveillance mechanism. Evaluators must practice being radically honest with philanthropic organizations.

Evaluators can actively challenge inequitable evaluation by slowing down the false sense of urgency philanthropy puts on grantee organizations and evaluators.

adrienne maree brown identified “move at the speed of trust” as one of the principles of emergent strategy. Practicing equitable evaluation requires relationship-building to be a part of the evaluation process. Often, a false sense of urgency compels funders to push organizations and evaluators to bypass critical relationship building time in order to advance their own agendas of self-relevance. However, the evaluator can with candor and intention, help funders understand that they will gain more knowledge by moving at the speed of trust than moving at the speed of white supremacist status quo thinking.

Evaluators can identify that equitable evaluations begin before they are hired and that their addition to the project does not instantly make everything equitable.

Creating a container to practice equity is often overlooked and unaddressed by organizations commissioning and contracting with others to practice equitable evaluation. The good intentions of asking contractors utilize equitable evaluation practices when the organization itself has not done any self-reckoning around concepts of race, class, gender or equity, justice and liberation are not enough to create an equitable evaluation. Evaluators recognize that when their equitable processes are seen as too time consuming, expensive or lacking rigor the funding organization has not prepared themselves for engaging in equitable practice. This breeds a relationship of discontent and defense that does not serve the organization, the grantees or the evaluators well. Practice taking the time to provide loving critique of defining the evaluation container with equity in mind for all stakeholders.

Practice equity, justice and liberation until something equitable happens, evaluators! We can bring so much to philanthropy around this work and our communities deserve our most intentional and purposeful commitment to this practice!

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Nonprofits and Foundations Topical Interest Group (NPFTIG) Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our NPFTIG members. 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 submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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