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Toward New Partnerships and Stronger Measures

A Letter from Executive Director Diana Spencer

Dear Friends,

Warm wishes for everyone’s holiday season and a salute to the work we did together in 2019. Plus, a look forward.

We foresee a year of working with the many extraordinary nonprofits we support, learning of their success stories and the challenges they face. We also look forward to learning how McGowan can be a better partner.

Currently, I am knee-deep in research for our next national initiative(s) and excited by the opportunity to support one or two more initiatives that will have the potential to expand well beyond McGowan Fund boundaries—both physically and monetarily—as we have done with past programs.

People sometimes do not see the field of philanthropy as a “business.” While we do not manufacture products or provide services, we do believe that ours is a business of helping people flourish, and it is one of the most important businesses one can have the privilege to be engaged in. As with any business, it warrants careful evaluation of our work. This serves as a learning journey that helps inform strategy. Our nonprofit partners are experts in the field and have incredibly valuable information. For many years, donors have asked nonprofits to evaluate their work, validate the approach, and track the success of participants. It’s equally important that we have the courage to be accountable for our work.

To this end, we’re adding a position to the Fund’s lean team. The Director of Learning and Evaluation will help us create a culture of inquiry and develop a practical and effective learning and measurement strategy. We’ll use data to learn with communities, grantees, and partners and to support the Fund’s internal planning and execution. How do our programs align with community needs? How do we visualize success from the participant’s, grantee’s, or community’s viewpoint? Our intention is to make what we learn useful and extensible for the Fund, our grantees, partners, and communities.

I look forward to introducing our new hire in the months ahead.

Diana Spencer,