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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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From the Director's Desk

An introduction to this issue's topic of Scaling Impact by Harvard Family Research Project Founder & Director, Heather B. Weiss, Ed.D.

Theory and Practice

Broadening the Perspective on Scale

Julia Coffman of HFRP and the Center for Evaluation Innovation describes four approaches to scale that differ on both what is scaled and how it is scaled.

Theory and Practice

Six Steps to Successfully Scale Impact in the Nonprofit Sector

Erin Harris of HFRP reviews the literature on this topic and discusses how nonprofits can successfully scale up an intervention, thus expanding impact to reach larger populations.

Beyond Basic Training

The Five Meanings of Scale in Philanthropy

Peter Frumkin of the University of Texas at Austin describes the five primary ways in which funders define scale as it relates to nonprofits’ efforts to create a lasting and significant impact, and warns that strategic giving requires a nuanced stance grounded in a clear understanding of the many meanings—and limits—of scale.

Beyond Basic Training

Scaling Social Entrepreneurial Impact: The SCALERS Model

Paul Bloom and Aaron Chatterji of Duke University discuss their model for conceptualizing scaling impact for social entrepreneurs—individuals who start up and lead new organizations or programs to address social problems using change strategies that differ from those used in the past.

Evaluations to Watch

Save the Children’s Literacy Programs in Rural America: Evaluation That Informs Scale-Up

Elizabeth Reisner of Policy Studies Associates discusses how the learning gains of STC’s children’s literacy program relate to the program’s scaling process: evidence of participant learning influenced the growth and further development of the program positively and powerfully.

Ask the Expert

Lessons from Evaluators’ Experiences with Scale

Heidi Rosenberg of HFRP and Helen Westmoreland of the Flamboyan Foundation spoke with three evaluators, who share lessons from their experiences in evaluating programs as they went to scale, to discover how evaluation can inform and assess scaling efforts.

Questions and Answers

A Conversation with Mike Smith

Marshall “Mike” Smith, senior counselor to the Secretary and director of international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education, discusses why the idea of scale entered the education policy conversation, the challenges involved in taking an intervention to scale in new settings, and what evaluation strategies should accompany the process of going to scale.

Promising Practices

Developmental Stages for Evaluating Scale

Sarah-Kathryn McDonald of the University of Chicago describes a conceptual model designed to demonstrate the role of evaluation in the scale-up process.

Promising Practices

Early Evaluation to Inform Expansion of a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

Roblyn Anderson Brigham and Jennifer Nahas discuss the implications of Brigham Nahas Research Associates’ evaluation of the Children’s Aid Society/Carrera Integrated School Model for expansion of the model to new school settings.

Promising Practices

Spreading Our WINGS: Using Performance Data to Prepare for Scale-Up

Many nonprofits collect data to measure their impact. But as Ginny Deerin, CEO of WINGS for kids, describes, they can also mine a treasure trove of performance data to improve their program models even before they undergo the scaling process.

Promising Practices

Applying a Broader Concept of Scale to Evaluate a Funding Strategy

Erin Harris and Priscilla Little discuss how Harvard Family Research Project used a multidimensional concept of scale to evaluate The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Integrated Learning Cluster strategy.

Promising Practices

The RALLY Program: Scaling an Inclusive Approach to Intervention and Prevention

Helen Janc Malone of HFRP describes an afterschool program’s strategy for scaling its services and the role of evaluation in the scaling process.


White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation

HFRP describes the functions of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, created by President Obama last year in response to the perceived lack of innovation and use of rigorous approaches to identifying “what works” in the nonprofit sector. The new office seeks to address the need to identify and scale up successful nonprofit initiatives.


New Releases on Benchmarking Electronic Communications

In 2007, The Evaluation Exchange (XIII, 1) featured the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, a research effort that developed metrics to measure the effectiveness of nonprofit online advocacy and fundraising efforts. Katie Chun of HFRP describes recent releases from this effort and others that help nonprofits assess the success of their online and text-messaging strategies.


Why Facebook Matters for Nonprofits

Katie Chun of HFRP discusses the growing momentum and collateral challenges of Facebook as the next major vehicle for nonprofits.

New & Noteworthy

This section features an annotated list of papers, organizations, initiatives, and other resources related to this issue’s theme of scaling impact.

End Notes

Scaling Impact: Six Takeaways

HFRP summarizes key observations in this issue of The Evaluation Exchange. Scaling impact often refers to scaling programs or interventions, but ideas, technologies, skills, and policies can also be scaled. Thinking about scale more broadly can reveal possibilities for scaling impact beyond the traditional business model of replication.

Online Conversations about Scaling Impact—Web Only Resouce

A number of informal conversations are occurring online about this topic (including the implications for evaluation), especially on blogs. This resource provides links to some of these recent conversations, which represent a wide range of views and opinions.

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© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project