Conceptualizing and Measuring the Promotion of Nonprofit Organizations’ Evidence Use by U.S. Social Service Funding Programs

Authors

  • Christopher S. Horne University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • John K. Brock Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency
  • J. Kenzie Freeman Independent Program Evaluation Consultant
  • Holly S. Odell Lookout Mountain Conservancy

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.20899/jpna.7.2.240-263

Keywords:

Evidence-Based, Research Use, Grants, Evaluation, Nonprofit

Abstract

Previous research on U.S. federal promotion of evidence-based programming has focused on evidence-based program registries and concludes their usefulness is undermined by prioritizing internal validity over external validity. This research explores how federal funding programs are actually promoting funded nonprofit organizations’ evidence use instead of what we might infer from registries alone. An inductively developed conceptual framework is applied to describe all 53 fiscal year (FY) 2019 social service funding programs that include nonprofit organizations among the eligible applicants, finding they promote multiple types of evidence use, with generally low coerciveness, and with applicants frequently co-determining what counts as evidence. These findings point to promotion of evidence use that balances evidence-driven prescriptiveness and enabling nonprofits’ innovation.

Author Biographies

Christopher S. Horne, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Christopher S. Horne is Dalton Roberts Professor of Public Administration and Master of Public Administration Program Coordinator at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

John K. Brock, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency

John K. Brock is Fiscal Officer at Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency and former Graduate Assistant in the Master of Public Administration Program at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

J. Kenzie Freeman, Independent Program Evaluation Consultant

J. Kenzie Freeman is an independent program evaluation consultant in Dayton, Tennessee.

Holly S. Odell, Lookout Mountain Conservancy

Holly S. Odell is Community Outreach Coordinator at Lookout Mountain Conservancy and former Graduate Assistant in the Master of Public Administration Program at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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Published

2021-08-01

Issue

Section

Research Articles