As foundations continue to provide grantees with technical assistance in addition to financial support, it is important to understand what works well, for whom, and in what circumstances. This reflective practice article aims to help funders who have identified a problem amenable to technical assistance to develop a strong program by providing support to a group of organizations addressing similar problems or by providing customized individual support.
Drawing on insights from evaluations of two technical-assistance programs, this article recommends five key issues for funders to consider when offering such a program: whose priorities will shape the agenda, how group composition might affect technical assistance, what qualities are most important for providers, what types of technical-assistance formats providers should offer, and how funders will know whether technical assistance is working.
The article concludes by highlighting three lessons: (1) incorporating flexibility into programs, enabling technical assistance to be more responsive to participants’ needs and resources; (2) setting and measuring technical-assistance goals, which can help funders assess the fit of participants for programs and support ongoing learning; and (3) monitoring and collecting feedback, which helps promote quality and can offer insights as to how programs might be changed to best meet participants’ needs.
Lyons, J., Dunleavy Hoag, S., Orfield, C., & Streeter, S. (2016). Designing Technical-Assistance Programs: Considerations for Funders and Lessons Learned. The Foundation Review, 8(5). https://doi.org/10.9707/1944-5660.1342