ORS Impact News

The ORS Impact team has earned a global reputation for leadership, insight and innovation. We work collaboratively with our clients, bringing our distinctive expertise in planning, measurement and evaluation to their most vexing challenges.

Exploring Field Building Concepts and Measurement

Inspired by similar types of efforts (for example, the Funder Evaluator Affinity Network), ORS hosted a two-session virtual think tank in June 2021. We brought together 13 people from different roles, institutions, and disciplines to consider with us: how can we help social sector actors clearly articulate concepts and stimulate stronger/better measurement for field-focused approaches?

While we knew work had been done to describe field-focused work and how it could be usefully measured, the study of fields is relatively new and there is not yet a robust, well-known literature. Through the think tank, we reviewed and sought to expand thinking about field-related concepts and identify current practices and future opportunities to fill gaps, be more innovative, and enhance clear articulation and measurement of field-focused efforts.

Following the think tank, we reflected and synthesized ideas and input shared by participants, and we are very excited to share this short brief, written for anyone who has ever wondered how learning and evaluation of fields could be more helpful and more nuanced. The brief lays out a few core definitions and concepts. The brief also identifies: 

  • five practices that can help funders and evaluators strengthen their conceptualization and understanding about fields and field-focused measurement, and enable better field outcomes – including equitable social impact; and
  • three opportunities to further develop and advance field measurement by pushing collective thinking and practices beyond the status quo.

We see the brief as adding to an emerging and ongoing conversation; certainly, much more can be done, and we hope funders, practitioners, and evaluators will continue to explore, experiment, exchange insights, and push for meaningful field-focused evaluation efforts and development of more practical frameworks or tools.

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