What’s Wrong With Being “Soft” in Advocacy Evaluation?

By Kerry Brennan // April 15, 2014

Measuring program effectiveness may sound like the bean-counting afterthought to the real work of program implementation. But measuring program effectiveness in the social sector can feel pretty high-stakes for organizations competing for limited funding dollars. And there’s plenty of controversy around how it should be done.

One particularly persistent debate centers around whether or not some programs are too “soft” to evaluate. Are the outcomes of, say, advocacy or empowerment initiatives too subjective, complex, or nuanced to evaluate with “hard” objective metrics?

A recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article by representatives of the Walton Family Foundation argues that this does not have to be the case, declaring “advocacy isn’t ‘soft’”. The authors describe how they have been able to apply logic models and performance measures to their advocacy projects in more or less the same way that they might … Read More »


April 9, 2014

Ethan Wilkes at Sauder School of Business

Ethan Wilkes at Sauder School of Business

Ethan will deliver a keynote speech at the UBC Sauder School of Business Propelling Social Ventures 2014: From Ideas to Impact conference on April 15 in Vancouver. He will speak to ways the public sector and social innovators can work more closely for greater impact, followed by a panel discussion with directors from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation and Social Innovation Generations (SiG) West.

Measuring What’s Working for Health Systems Strengthening: Lessons from Governance Reform

By Dave Algoso // March 31, 2014

The clearest representation of healthcare is a doctor sitting with a patient. Whether it’s a routine checkup or a serious procedure, direct interaction is central to how health care happens. If you want to improve health outcomes, this interaction is a good place to start: putting new technology in the doctor’s bag, ensuring vaccines or essential medicines reach patients, or simply building new clinics.

But, of course, we know that there are hundreds of other people who make that interaction possible: diagnosticians, administrators, insurers, janitors, receptionists, truck drivers, cooks, regulators, researchers…the list is endless. These are the people who compose a health care system. And the design of such a service delivery system can dramatically impact the effectiveness and efficiency of the care provided.

The global health sector is paying increasing attention to the systems that ensure care reaches … Read More »

Time to Move From Pruning Trees in Global Health to Forest Management

By Dave Algoso // March 27, 2014

Global health efforts in the past decade or so have taken an aggressive and largely successful targeted approach to some of the world’s most harmful diseases such as HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria.

With an unprecedented increase in funding for such efforts in this new millennium, the global health sector has made major gains against particular diseases and other health threats. But funding is limited, and has plateaued of late, focusing attention on getting more ‘value for money.’ Many leaders in this field say they are now seeking to identify the “best buys” in global health.

This was the stated purpose of a recent event hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD) along with Population Services International (PSI), PATH, Devex, and Merck for Mothers which featured experts from those organizations and others. The event was linked to the release of PSI’s Impact magazine … Read More »


March 24, 2014

Kerry Brennan Joins Reboot!

Kerry Brennan Joins Reboot!

We are delighted to welcome Kerry to our team as Program Manager! Kerry brings a wealth of experience to Reboot from her work in Mexico, the Philippines, India, and the U.S. Pre-Reboot, Kerry managed a variety of projects, including exploration of the economic dynamics of slums with the Rockefeller Foundation’s Strategic Research unit and implementation of impact evaluations with Innovations for Poverty Action. Kerry will oversee research, design, and documentation processes across Reboot projects.

Navigating Certifications for Greater Accountability

By Faaria Volinski // March 19, 2014

Early this year, World Policy Journal mapped illicit diamond market activities in all their complexity. A 3-month long investigation into the efficiency of the Kimberley Process—an international agreement that seeks to identify and certify non-conflict diamonds—showed that conflict diamonds can pass through multiple subsidiaries in tax havens that are largely deemed “Kimberley Process-certified.” In this way, diamonds are erased of their true origins, making it harder to identify which are conflict and which aren’t.

At first glance, the problem seems to be the inefficacy of the Kimberley Process. Questionable jurisdictions that can erase diamonds of their true origins shouldn’t be certified. Simple as that.

But a closer look reveals a systemic issue that plagues all certifications and standards that are established with the best of intentions. As the World Policy Journal article states:

“The root cause of the problem … Read More »


March 17, 2014

Panthea Lee at USAID Roundtable

Panthea Lee at USAID Roundtable

Panthea has been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion focused on mobile content creation on March 18 and 19 in DC. She will present on human-centered design as part of the gathering. The event will convene 15-20 leading thinkers from technology providers, design firms, content creation organizations, academia, donors, and policymakers with a focus on finding action-oriented ways to strengthen the creation of mobile content.


March 13, 2014

Samantha Hammer on UNICEF Blog

Samantha Hammer on UNICEF Blog

UNICEF has featured Samantha’s recent article on channeling empathy in policymaking. Based on Reboot’s work on policy creation for children’s rights in Nicaragua, the piece explores how understanding the individual lived experiences of those a policy will affect can inform policy design.

Casa Materna: A Critical Service in Need of Redesign

By Samantha Hammer // March 5, 2014

Last month, we explored how policymakers can channel empathy in policymaking, using as an example our work with UNICEF to identify diverse needs and challenges of children in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). Our community-based approach highlighted success stories as well as services in need of redesign. Today, we’ll go to a casa materna, a “maternity waiting home”,  in Puerto Cabezas to see how this important resource for women can better serve as a source of medical and emotional care.

The women of the Puerto Cabezas casa materna have come from near and far. They’ve made journeys of up to multiple hours over rough roads, by foot and in designated ambulances. They’ve come to get the care they need as soon-to-be mothers.

There are 88 casas maternas spread throughout Nicaragua, and seven in RAAN. The government has invested in … Read More »


March 3, 2014

Adam Talsma at Nigeria’s First Health Hackathon

Adam Talsma at Nigeria’s First Health Hackathon

Adam participated in Nigeria’s first Health Hackathon on February 22. Joining him was Nkechi Okwuone and Ambrose Ariagiegbe from the Edo State Open Data Team. The event sought to inspire new and profitable applications for addressing health challenges in Nigeria. The event was made possible by a number of organizations, including the Private Health Sector Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), and hosted at iDEA Hub in Lagos.


February 28, 2014

Nonso Jideofor at Lagos Social Media Week

Nonso Jideofor at Lagos Social Media Week

Nonso spoke on contextualizing open data at Lagos Social Media Week on February 20. His presentation highlighted lessons learned from Reboot’s involvement with open data in Nigeria. The event was hosted by BudgIt at CC Hub, and included presentations from other innovative organizations including Shine Your Eye and Stop the Bribes.

Connecting Company and Cause for Sustainable CSR

By Dane Roth // February 26, 2014

During the 2013 holiday season, Mazda launched its Mazda Drive for Good Campaign to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and a collection of charities supported through the Mazda Foundation. Similar company efforts to support social causes, such as Nivea’s donation to the Breakfast Club of Canada, have long been part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

But it’s hard not to wonder, why is a car company is putting its efforts toward addressing medical research issues?

What is “Alignment” in CSR?

Business and CSR “align” when the selection of social causes, methods of intervention, and implementation partners fit with the existing expertise and resources underlying a company’s business success.

For example, Pfizer capitalizes on its expertise in the pharmaceutical manufacturing business by donating medicine to a wide range of … Read More »