In the words of one ACE Evaluation Network Member, “I think the conversations were free-flowing and mutually beneficial in creating a brief intellectual space to share our respective backgrounds, ideas, and approaches.”
The Expanding the Bench (ETB) Team has been thinking deeply about how to support relationship-building between evaluators and funders of evaluation. Through our conversations with funders of evaluation, we have learned that many rely heavily on personal networks (i.e. existing relationships with evaluators or trusted entities) to advertise and disseminate evaluation-contracting opportunities.
A major challenge in contracting ‘tried and true’ or ‘well-connected’ evaluators is the lack of diversity that has resulted from tapping the same pool of evaluators. Historically marginalized and under-supported communities are frequently the objects of study, yet evaluators are rarely representative of historically marginalized communities.
In recognition of how important relationships are, we set out to expand the bench of diverse evaluators for funders, through a month of virtual “coffee breaks” in June. 57 virtual “coffee breaks” were scheduled between philanthropic funders and evaluators from the Advancing Culturally-responsive and Equitable (ACE) Evaluation Network.
Both evaluator and funder were invited to bring a beverage to their 1:1 meeting and encouraged to get to know each other, explore common and individual interests, and discuss the practice of culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE). This pilot effort included 12 funder contacts and 38 ACE Evaluation Network Members. Evaluation forms have been sent to all participants, and we look forward to using the feedback we’re receiving to inform future relationship-building opportunities.
Early data and anecdotal feedback has been very positive thus far! In the words of one ACE Evaluation Network Member, “I think the conversations were free-flowing and mutually beneficial in creating a brief intellectual space to share our respective backgrounds, ideas, and approaches.” Stay tuned for the next opportunity!