Our Approach Details
We take a developmental approach: MAI designs evaluations that are aligned with the particular developmental stage of the program or organization we are partnering with. For example, conducting a high-stakes evaluation too early in a program’s development could lead to the false conclusion that an effective model does not produce desired outcomes. MAI customizes every project to ensure that its findings are credible and relevant—all with an eye towards progress through continuous program improvement.
We invest in understanding the landscape: We take time at the beginning of each project to identify and begin to address challenges and opportunities; strategize about data collection procedures; and, most importantly, build the foundation for strong relationships.
We intentionally focus on gaining buy-in: MAI works strategically with clients to gain buy-in for evaluation activities. We hold workgroup and “meaning-making” sessions across program and organization staff to ensure that all stakeholders’ perspectives are considered. We also involve and work with organizations’ funders and boards, as well as their constituents, when appropriate.
We provide our expertise on how to steward resources: Organizations need support and honest advice about how to best allocate their resources. As good stewards of their funds and time, MAI guides organizations toward getting the most “bang for their buck.” MAI works closely with each client to ensure that project planning is purposeful and results in a meaningful product—we are not afraid to call out ideas that may do more harm than good. With external program evaluations, our goal is to identify and plan for implementation challenges that may undermine the study, resulting in lost resources.
We put a laser focus on program improvement and field building: MAI is a recognized leader in evaluation for program improvement. The guiding principle of all of our projects is “evaluation for progress.” We use flexible, yet rigorous, evaluation practices that help organizations and funders achieve their goals of improving people’s lives. Our team places a particularly high premium on producing information that is relevant and useful to the program itself, as well as to external stakeholders. We are experts at communicating data and evaluation findings in unique and accessible formats.