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The Xaris Firm delivers quality work to its partners through capacity building efforts and/or through direct services.

Technical Support & Training

Organizational Capacity BuildingOur training and capacity building engagements are designed to enhance organizational effectiveness and skills for sustainable development. Sessions range from one-time workshops to multi-session trainings, or ongoing coaching. Examples of our workshop portfolio includes:

  • Grant Readiness Bootcamp
  • Data Informed Program Planning
  • Planning to Succeed Through Evaluation

Literature Review of Best PracticesWe consult the literature and other sources of information and synthesize findings in a concise format to identify best practices and help inform decision-making.

Planning & Assessment

Strategic Planning—Our strategic planning is designed such that organizations are supported in defining objectives & desired results. Using proven facilitation methods and neutral oversight in managing collaborative discussions we create dynamic environments for engaging stakeholders. Consensus building & action planning techniques are used to support organizations in planning, problem solving, execution & evaluation.

Program PlanningWe work with stakeholders to ensure that programs are optimally designed to achieve its intended goals. Using a collaborative process, we clarify the desired outcomes of programs and develop a logic model/theory of change to visually illustrate how the program will produce its desired effects. This process ensures that robust data can be collected and measured and ultimately used for continuous programmatic improvement, and to communicate the results of the program.

Evaluation PlanningWe use a systematic process to prepare clients for effective use of evaluation, including developing clear and measurable program objectives and metrics/indicators, and ensuring that evaluation designs are appropriately aligned with the stated program goals.

Grant Readiness Assessment—We help clients determine if they are well-positioned to apply for funding by using an assessment tool focused on key characteristics that are often important to funders. The overall process concludes with a capacity building grant readiness action plan, which is specifically tailored to each organization’s unique needs. 

Needs Assessments—We help clients determine the need and feasibility of a program/project through a comprehensive assessment of needs. We use a process that takes input from multiple sources to inform decision-making and guide the development of a successful program.

Program Evaluation

We work with clients to determine whether valued change has happened, and whether a program or initiative is responsible for producing the desired level change identified in the planning process. We offer two types of program evaluations:

Formative Evaluations: We work with clients to review the program design, processes, structure, and implementation to help identify areas that are working well and areas of improvement.  

Summative Evaluations: We work with clients to measure the results of a program, comparing the program outcomes against the program objectives.

Developmental Evaluations: We support clients by collecting and analyzing data in ways that drives ongoing decision-making as part of the design, development, and implementation process. This type of evaluation assesses what is taking place as a new approach is implemented and provides data on expected. This approach is well suited for emerging- and/or innovative- programs or initiatives and can be adapted in response to what is being learned along the way.

Implementation of Research Methodologies

We help clients gather valid and reliable information about their programs or initiatives using a variety of research methods. We have experience working with government agencies, nonprofits, consumer- and market- research entities, and diverse populations. We have expertise using the following research methods:

  • Small and large-scale cross-sectional surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Site observations
  • Single and Mixed Methods research designs (i.e., case studies, quasi-experimental, and experimental designs)
  • Analysis of statistical data (i.e., simple descriptive statistics, statistical testing and complex modeling (i.e., regression models)

Data Analysis & Reporting

We support clients in analyzing primary and secondary data and developing data reports. Analysis can include thematic summary of qualitative findings, basic descriptive analysis of quantitative findings, as well as analysis of outcomes produced by a program or initiative. Our reports provide key insights and recommendations that support improvement or programs/initiatives. Examples of data reports include the following:

  • Executive summaries,
  • Top line reports 
  • Comprehensive reports that summarize key findings from any analysis

Proposal/Grant Consultation & Writing

We work with clients to assess organizational grant readiness using an in-depth grant readiness assessment, provide support in researching funding opportunities that best align with organizational priorities, support clients in developing a holistic strategy for funding applications, write proposal/grant applications for specific funders, and review and/or edit existing proposals/grant applications. We also offer consultation regarding goodness of fit for specific funding opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rates for each client engagement vary based on a few factors– the scope of work, timeline, project duration and budget for your project. These factors will all be considered when developing a cost proposal to meet your stated needs. We have the flexibility to work within grant/funding guidelines and budget limitations and understand the nature of non-profit funding. Please feel free to schedule your free consultation so that we can collaboratively determine how we can approach your unique scenario.

The systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics, and outcomes of programs to make judgments about the program, improve program effectiveness, and/or inform decisions about future program development. (Scriven M. Minimalist theory of evaluation: The least theory that practice requires. American Journal of Evaluation 1998;19:57-70.)

Research is focused on testing theories and producing generalizable findings. Evaluation is focused on determining the effectiveness of a program or model with the ultimate goal being to improve programs/initiatives. (Patton, Michael Quinn (2014). Evaluation Flash Cards: Embedding Evaluative Thinking in Organizational Culture. St. Paul, MN: Otto Bremer Foundation)

We primarily work with nonprofits, including community-based organizations; government agencies; and academic institutions who demonstrate the capacity for grant- readiness.

We DO NOT support individuals who are seeking funding for:

  1. for-profit ventures such as business start-ups
  2. academic scholarships
  3. entities who are looking for support in getting a 501(c3) established

We support grant-ready clients who seek funding for program development or project support. This is inclusive of program narrative development, evaluation narrative development and in some instances a grants development strategy and funding research.

This is funding used to support a program or project and typically falls within a few categories (e.g., planning, technical assistance, capital, or endowment funding).
While a few foundations allow the cost for proposals/grant writing services to be included in the budget, this is typically not the case. Most funders do not cover fundraising, and proposal/grant writing is often considered as a type of fundraising that occurs well before the grant is awarded; therefore, fees should be paid at the time of service. This is an ethical best practice that is in line with the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Since there are several factors that determine whether an organization wins an award/grant (e.g., organizational grant readiness, organizational reputation, program quality, evaluation capacity, competition in the field, etc.), non-successful funding of an award/grant should not be used to justify non-payment for services. This practice is considered unethical by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as it devalues the skill and expertise that goes into developing a sound proposal/grant.
Proposal/grant writing is a long-term investment in an organization’s programs and sustainability. If you are unable to fully invest in this service, we provide coaching services that include a review of existing proposal/grant documents, creation of boilerplate language, program goals/evaluation metrics.

We recommend consulting an attorney or an organization that has expertise in nonprofit development (e.g., state small business association offices, secretary of state offices, or an entity like Legal Zoom)

A grant-ready organization is able to do the following:

  1. Achieve its mission through measurable outcomes and program objectives.
  2. Operate using sound management operating practices and a strong governance structure.
  3. Consistently assess programs/activities to ensure alignment with measurable outcomes.

We use a grant readiness assessment tool to gauge whether an organization possesses key characteristics that well-position them for funding. The assessment looks at legal compliance, organizational structure, governance structure, prioritization & planning, organizational capacity, and evaluation capacity.

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