Looking Through a Different Lens

By Alexandra Frederickson, Land Stewardship Centre

Fundraising, mainly researching and applying to grants, is a significant part of my job. As such, I’m always interested in learning about – and effectively applying- evaluation methods and techniques. Evaluation is such an important aspect in grant writing but more importantly it demonstrates impact and helps tell the story of what your organization or project has achieved.

When I found out about EvalLab, I was intrigued by the concept and when I was accepted, I was excited to attend on behalf of my organization, Land Stewardship Centre. After attending 2 sessions, I am even more intrigued and excited by the prospect of using developmental evaluation and strategic learning as a way to measure my organization’s level of learning and impact. The workshop forces me to think a different way and accept and even welcome ambiguity and failure. This concept can be difficult for certain people and ways of thinking to adapt to, but I like how the EvalLab challenges me to look at things- including strategic plans, fund development and evaluation- through a different lens.

This year my organization is updating their strategic plan, and I feel that my attendance at the EvalLab is very timely. It puts me in a position to really use what I’ve learned in the EvalLab, and apply it in a practical, real world setting.

While the workshop so far has discussed interesting complexity theories and paradigms of thinking among other things, what really sticks for me is that innovation is often unknown and the path forward unclear. Using traditional methods of evaluation to measure an innovation that inherently aims to change a system or outcome, can hinder the innovation itself. I think that’s why development evaluation, or a different way of measuring progress, is really taking off in the non-profit world and I’m truly excited to be a part of this initiative.