The Studio works with nonprofits, foundations and institutions of higher education, where we focus on developing sound, data-informed strategies that create measurable changes and ultimately advancing your work, mission, and goals.
Drive Evaluation Studio has been trusted by
We have worked under many titles — Learning Consultant, Chief Evaluator, Research Strategist, Evaluation Specialist, and Research Partner are just a few examples. You can call us whatever you want – the point is the same; we’re here to help advance your work.
Whether it to make big strategic decisions with your leadership team or to take on a discrete applied research task in a finite time period because you do not have the capacity in-house, strategic consulting engagements range in scope and length. They typically run one to six months, with the average strategic consulting engagement lasting three months.
This monthly retainer includes 5 days of strategy and consulting tailored to your needs.
Example strategic consulting engagements include:
Theory of Change Development
Logic Model Development
Research Plan Design
Organizational Needs Assessment
Research Tool Selection Consulting
Organic Research Tool Development
Secondary Data Analysis
Feedback Loop Design
External Context Scans
"Elena is a brilliant strategist; she is efficient, detail-oriented and extremely competent. Even more important – her communication skills (both written and verbal) and the respect given to her by her colleagues. There is no one I would trust more to turn an idea into action, get buy-in, and get things done."
VICE CHANCELLOR FOR ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
"Elena quickly established rapport with staff and became a trusted resource at every level of the organization. Her ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and respond in real time made her invaluable to the project’s success. In addition to the exceptional quality of her deliverables, Elena’s insight, objectivity, and experience were reflected in every meeting and communication."
DIRECTOR, CAPACITY BUILDING AND NONPROFIT SUPPORT, HARTFORD FOUNDATION FOR PUBLIC GIVING
Inquire with the studio
To inquire with us to begin Strategic Consulting, you can fill out our inquiry form by clicking on the button below. Once we receive your inquiry, we will respond as soon as possible and reach out to schedule a call to discuss your evaluation needs further.
We look forward to speaking with you!
+ What is your evaluation consulting process?
The process is unique to each engagement based on the client’s goals, strengths, needs, budget, and timeline. That said, all engagements will begin with level-setting and groundwork, and they will end with a reflection.
In the level-setting and groundwork phase, we operationalize our outcomes, talk about how we will work together, and use any existing information available to develop a foundation of knowledge.
In the reflection phase, we talk about what we learned and how it will be used, and we ensure the client feels empowered to continue their learning and evaluation efforts after our time together has ended.
There will be some additional phases (usually two to four) in between to get us to the intended outcome.
+ Why do you have phases in your process?
It’s good practice in communication to provide feedback in a “sandwich” - good stuff, constructive stuff, good stuff again.
This way, regardless of the feedback you are providing, you are following a roadmap to do it. We think of consulting in a similar way - the elements of each phase will vary, but having phases lets a client know what to expect, when to expect it, and where they are in the process at any moment.
Studio phases are typically designed to map to different parts of an engagement, so they provide a point to pause.
At the end of each phase, we ensure we are on track and we use what we learned in the previous phase to enhance what we are doing next.
And like “a feedback sandwich,” Studio engagements begin and end with specific things: we always start with level-setting and groundwork, and in the spirit of learning, we always end with a reflection.
+ How does the Studio think about cultural responsiveness?
+ You reference “flexibility” often; what does that mean?
Many engagements are executed exactly as they are designed. Others have to shift to respond to organizational and external factors that impact them (staff changes, an extended program timeline, even a global pandemic).
For as much as we are rooted in and committed to strong methodology, we understand that your work is happening in real-time and in real-life. We also know that learning happens as we work and from multiple places.
So, for the Studio, flexibility means staying true to the engagement design that will get us to our intended outcomes while creating space for iteration based on what is happening around us as well as what we are learning as we progress.
+ How long is a typical evaluation process/project?
This can vary drastically by client and by type of engagement.
Evaluations are typically about 12 to 18 months, with a few that have lasted just four or five months and many that were multi-year efforts.
Training and Capacity Building engagements range from discrete workshops for organizations (one to two days) to multi-year engagements working with various cohorts of stakeholders.
Strategy Consulting engagements also have significant variability. These last at least three months and can go on for years. The record for longest Studio engagement is currently held by a long-term strategy consulting client - they have been working with the Studio for over seven years.
+ How often should we expect to meet with you?
As often as you’d like!
As part of our engagement, the Studio will provide you with milestones and levels of effort for each phase of our work together.The level of effort is the minimum amount of your time and effort that we will need to successfully achieve our collective goals.
We will ask to meet every time we transition between phases, whenever we have a deliverable, and in accordance with the level of effort and milestones we provide in our first phase.
Beyond that, we will design a communication calendar that fits your needs. Some clients prefer standing meeting schedules (these range from every other week to once per quarter), while others like ad-hoc meetings as we move into various pieces of our work.
+ How much should be allocated for a Studio engagement?
While the financial investment is an important question, it is hard to separate it from the scope and goals of the engagement.
As a benchmark, clients typically allocate about 10-15% of their programmatic budget for evaluation engagements.
However, we create customized and tailored engagements for each of our clients based on what they hope to accomplish, the complexity of the work, what they already have in place, and the resources they have available.
+ What if we need an evaluation consultant, but we do not have enough in the budget?
Good evaluation is an investment, but sometimes your funds have already been earmarked for other important purposes.
Consulting efforts can range in scale, scope, and intensity, and their cost can be drastically reduced if you have existing databases, established outcomes and indicators, and can potentially take on discrete pieces internally with some training and capacity building of staff.
Inquire with us to discuss what you already have that you can leverage and what engagements might be possible. Minimally, we can share some strategies that you can employ now to be ready for an evaluation consultant in the future.
+ We have data from a previous evaluation, can we start there?
That depends on many factors. We can definitely talk about this.
+ How do we get started?
Fill out our inquiry form for engagements, and we will be in touch.
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We believe strongly in equity – the belief that all individuals, regardless of identity, deserve an equal opportunity to contribute to and thrive in our society. This is a through-line in our approach to evaluation, teaching, capacity-building, and practice.
In our work, we continuously consider and review instruments, analyses, and reports to ensure the language, methodology, and approach reflect the people with whom we are working and the audiences who might engage with the products.
More broadly in our engagements, we seek to understand how our culture, values, and experiences influence our perspectives and others’ experiences of and with us. We check our assumptions, we seek out perspectives that do not align with ours, and we acknowledge that we are working in context – in real life – that is laden with systemic inequities. With each new partnership, we learn and continue to do this work.