This case study explores the use of Learning Circles as a practice that can be effective in sparking discussions about evaluation data and informing organizational improvement and decision making. The report examines the process, successes and lessons learned when a nonprofit communications research and strategy organization engaged Organizational Research Services to guide its staff and board through a Learning Circle.
A collaborative approach to improving data-driven evaluation
Findings & Stats
Primed to Succeed
Organizations that are motivated to learn are more likely to have success with a Learning Circle.
The Learning Circle's work should focus on the organization's pressing needs so paticipants will see the relevance to their work.
Using real data will help provide relevance and guide participants toward realistic next steps.
Keep it Casual
The Learning Circle is most successful when the atmosphere is informal and friendly.
After completing a Learning Circle, the organization should own the findings and hold itself accountable for making progress toward their identified goals.
Statements & Quotations
In its current strategic plan, Resource Media prioritized, among other things, the development of internal capacity so as to build 'a resilient and adaptive organization that could grow with the changing times.'
The principles and lessons learned about the implementation of a Learning Circle conducted with Resource Media staff and board members are useful to other nonprofit organizations and evaluators that wish to use simple learning practices to reflect on data and increase evaluation capacity.
Carolyn Cohen describes the Learning Circle as a 'shared study experience' that can be used with nonprofit organizations of any size that wish to improve their evaluation capacity.
The data shared during the Learning Circle helped to stimulate new thinking about Resource Media's relationships with some of their specific partners in terms of how they communicated goals for their work and the progress that they are making.
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