“Old wine in new bottles” could be the name for my new website.  “Learning from history” could be another, as could “The Fire Next Time,” though that was already taken.

Beginning a few years ago, I began to imagine a website different from the Effective Communities Project original site.   That one had been built on an ancient platform and was currently unseen by the bots searching the internet for wisdom useful to the nonprofit and philanthropic social change industry.

For one thing, this new site would no longer be a marketing website, as I’m not really looking for new business. I’m beyond the billable hour, pursuing instead an educational agenda.

And I wanted more than just an archive of my work, if for no other reason than just saying “archive” evokes musty dust and dull past.  We like to think our work has enduring qualities with application to current times.  I wanted this site to be an active teaching site.

The essentials of the situations explored in these papers haven’t changed that much since they were written, not enough to erase their basic teaching points.  This site intends to make these teaching points useful to these four essential audiences:

  • Grantmaking foundation staff and board
  • Activists, individual donors, and the volunteering public
  • Evaluators and evaluation students
  • Nonprofit program staff and executive directors

Our products were designed from the beginning to be useful.  We think them useful in creating and supporting a more productive social sector, one more capable of addressing society’s issues and opportunities.  We see nonprofits, activists, donors, volunteers, foundations, and evaluators as essential players in fixing what’s too often been created by negligent commercial practices and insufficiently addressed by government at most levels.

The site, while at root an archive, looks and acts like a magazine – a novel genre in the field of “dissemination and utilization of research.”  It includes:

  • Our best products over the years, re-issued and pitched to the four audiences/users – four different lenses for promoting value and utility, one could say.  These products, listed under the Archives tab, come from my time at Effective Communities Project, and as the founding director of Rainbow Research, Inc.
  • The best of JustPhilanthropy.org – my former blog site initiated as part of our Community Philanthropy and Racial Equity in the American South evaluation project, supported by Ford Foundation.  The blog continues here as a page on this website, with new posts as and when.
  • An emerging book called DaBook around the house, but more probably called “Nonprofit Program Development and Evaluation.”  It parallels the course I designed and taught for five years through Johns Hopkins’ Applied Academic Programs.  This book, in development, is for those wanting to apply the art and craft of program evaluation in very real, very active nonprofits.
  • Guidance to nonprofit and foundation staff interested in better navigating their organizations toward greater mission effectiveness, a surprisingly uncommon focus.  We’re hoping this website can soften the territory…

The site itself is based on the MH Magazine theme as produced by the good folks at The Mighty Mo, crackerjack WordPress mechanics.  A shout-out also to CoCo – a Coworking and Collaborative space.

Now please keep in mind this is an emerging, growing website.  At first it is primarily just an Archive, and only of about 20% of my collection.  But I have the beginning of  “lenses” for different users (the four categories above), a revival of the Just Philanthropy blog.  And then evaluation lessons intended for nonprofit and philanthropic leaders that have come through my course at Johns Hopkins University.  And then aids for better navigating towards mission success.  It’s an evolutionary process for me, so don’t be too judgy (that’s an evaluation term.)

I can’t say that financial donations to ECP will make this work happen any faster, but it will tell me there’s a sense of appreciation and perhaps even anticipation out there.  You can donate here, and I won’t even know who you are.

To comment on this website, Contact us.

Thank you!

Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D