Since Innovation Network was founded in 1992, we have deepened the field’s understanding of the capacity needed for evaluation, and helped to pioneer the evaluation of advocacy efforts. As a practice, we continue to learn and grow as we strive to advance social justice through equity with meaningful evaluation and learning.
We invite you to learn more about some important innovations and milestones in our history.
Innovation Network was founded in 1992 by Allison Fine as she identified a need for better accountability and evaluation of non-profits.
Innovation Network began publishing a monthly email to share emerging trends and helpful (and free) evaluation resources from the field.
At this time, there was a focus on building the evaluation capacity of non-profit organizations. You can still sign up for our monthly email curated by our team of evaluators.
Innovation Network began working on advocacy evaluation in a desire to support the learning around advocacy initiatives and further their social justice missions.
Two years after Innovation Network began work in advocacy evaluation, the field continued to progress as the American Evaluation Association created what became known as the Advocacy and Policy Change TIG.
In the early 2000s Innovation Network created what became known as PointK. The logic model builder is still available for use by all as a public access resource.
Julia Coffman founded The Center for Evaluation Innovation. This began a long-lasting partnership between Innovation Network and CEI.
Innovation Network published the first of three State of Evaluation reports, contributing to the field’s understanding of evaluation practice and capacity in the non-profit sector. The next SOE reports were published in 2012 and 2016 and highlight growth and challenges of nonprofits in the evaluation sector.
Veena Pankaj and Johanna Morariu became co-directors, and would head the organization for a decade.
Innovation Network started working with the Jake Group, now White 64, on its brand image. The new website, updated logo and colors were born, winning Jake Group a Standard of Excellence award.
The organization began a powerful transformation to live the values of its team members. The transformation strives for more equitable and collaborative internal frameworks, decision-making processes and the incorporation of equity into projects.
Read stories from our transformation on our blog.
* Event may not have been created by Innovation Network
Innovation Network started—like most ideas that stick—with a clear need.
In the early 1990s, evaluation practices amongst nonprofit organizations were not what they are today. Although the growing desire for greater accountability in the nonprofit field was getting stronger, there was a general lack of expertise and understanding around how to evaluate the work of mission-oriented organizations, as well as insufficient funding to support learning and evaluation. While private companies traditionally measure success through their bottom line—monetary profits—nonprofit organizations with socially oriented missions have a much more difficult task. Measuring impact in terms of social outcomes, cultural shifts, and increased equity has never been easy or straightforward.
In 1992, founder Allison Fine had a vision to teach nonprofits how to better plan and evaluate their efforts. Allison noticed that many nonprofit organizations did not have the capacity to evaluate their work. Often, organizations started to think about evaluation as an add-on item at the very end of a project. In its early years, Innovation Network partnered with a variety of nonprofits around the Washington, DC area to build the knowledge, capacity, and skills needed to advance evaluation practice.
Over the past decade, Innovation Network has broadened its reach to partner with nonprofits and foundations interested in social change. Our focus has gradually shifted from evaluating smaller scale programs to evaluating harder-to-measure concepts such as advocacy and social movements. As our expertise has grown, we continue to evolve, partnering with organizations to tackle projects focused on advocacy, health and health equity, and social justice. We are also committed to advancing the field of evaluation through our research, practice, and sharing of our learnings with the broader evaluation and nonprofit community.