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Observations and Inspiration from Chari Smith

Avoid This Common Survey Mistake

April 1st, 2021

Do you believe this blog post will help you? Yes No Maybe That, my friends, is a leading question. If I as the survey writer put into the question what I think, I am on a subconscious (or maybe even conscience) level make more likely that the survey taker will respond the way I want […]


Why I Wrote A Book

December 7th, 2020

** Available for purchase as of January 2021! Purchase now on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble ** In the blur of workshops on program evaluation I’ve taught over the years, there’s one persistent question to which I’ve never had a satisfactory answer: “Chari, have you written a book about this?” While flattered, I never […]


COVID-19 Can’t Stop Progress: Spotlight on Education and Evaluation

September 30th, 2020

In4All was able to adapt quickly when COVID-19 ripped through Portland, Oregon in March 2020. They closed their offices March 13, and were determined not to let this disruption stop their important work to bring educators and businesses together to impact students who are historically under-served at critical points in their K-12 education. Program Adjustment: […]


Creativity, Flexibility, and Courage: How I am adapting my program evaluation practice during the global pandemic

May 15th, 2020

Since the global coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, I can’t help but wonder about how all of this will impact current and future program evaluation work. Here are just a few of the questions I have heard from my clients, colleagues, nonprofits, foundations, and the evaluation sector at large: Should I keep working […]


Data into Dollars: The Intersection of Program Evaluation & Fundraising

January 13th, 2020

I struggle with the intersection of fundraising and program evaluation. The primary reason to do program evaluation is to learn, for continuous program improvement. It’s not a fundraising activity. However, I’m often brought into an organization by a grant writer who wants my help to produce data that demonstrates the impact of their program. They […]


Does Program Evaluation Need a Re-Brand?

September 6th, 2019

It isn’t a secret that program evaluation gets a bad rap. In my day-to-day work, it’s common for program staff I come across to involuntarily roll their eyes or tense up by just hearing the term “program evaluation”. And honestly? After seeing staff in many organizations struggle to comply with harsh mandates from internal and […]


Data Visualization 101: Channel Your Inner Art Director

June 14th, 2019

Data visualization is based on the simple premise that we learn with our eyes. In a fast moving world, you have a precious few seconds to really catch someone’s attention. I am not a graphic designer, and know that many talented designers exist who specialize in capturing the viewer’s attention right away. Despite this, I […]


Case Study: Northwest Housing Alternatives

March 21st, 2019

  What does your program do? Answering this seemingly simple question is where the program evaluation planning process always starts. To measure something, you first have to define it. When you apply an evaluative lens to a program, a new way of thinking about it emerges. Take for example the work I recently completed with […]


Logic Models: A Conceptual Map

January 6th, 2019

When some people hear the term logic model, a nervous quiver runs through their spine: flashbacks to a painful and frustrating logic model development experience. Unfortunately, experiences like this have given this term a bad rap, so it’s OK to call it something else: program impact model, evaluation map, program planning and evaluation map, and so […]


Funders & Evaluation: A Tension or Opportunity?

December 7th, 2018

This sentence from Prentice Zinn’s December 2017 AEA365 blog post really piqued my interest. Zinn discusses common areas of tension such as lack of funding for evaluation and outcomes anxiety. I appreciate this perspective, and believe some tension may stem from the feeling that evaluation is a mandate rather than something grantees want to do. The difference […]


Chari’s plan and coaching for evaluation over time helped create a data-driven culture within our team...

"Chari helped us take our broad program, which serves a wide range of people with a variable menu of services, and distill it down to the places where we have the most ability to create change within our participants’ lives. In addition to cultivating effective tools, Chari’s plan and coaching for evaluation over time helped create a data-driven culture within our team that we had not been able to capture before. We received two of our largest grants to date as a direct result of our collaboration with her."

Julia Doty, Former Director of Resident Services, Northwest Housing Alternatives

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