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Consultant Spotlight: Amy Campbell, Program Evaluation Expert with Elevate Consulting

Program Management

May 7, 2019

Elevate has gotten the opportunity to see the wide variety of organizations Nashville has to offer working with organizations of different sizes, different sectors and different spaces in the community. CNM has provided access to some smaller organizations that do not always have full resources for consulting through the Nonprofit Excellence Funds (NEF). Amy highlights this opportunity as being “some of the most meaningful work, getting to work with organizations who are really on the ground and embedded in those communities that they’re serving.” Elevate helps these clients to build evaluation infrastructure to reach their stated end goal, whether that be an ability to communicate their impact, to access funding, or for internal review.

Elevate’s diverse range of clients has made equity a central priority for the team, and Amy valued the work that CNM is doing to increase awareness and knowledge of utilizing an equity lens. Amy and Jessica Gibbons-Benton recently presented to CNM’s Collective Impact Learning Community about data collection using an equity lens. To dive deeper into this topic of equitable evaluation, sign up for Elevate’s next CNM workshop. Over the past couple years at CNM, Amy has started to see how other people are adapting their work around equity and it has been beneficial in giving Elevate and the community some sense of urgency around the issue. Amy highlights that this focus does not only benefit CNM’s consultants, but also CNM’s nonprofit clients and the community at large.

With this focus on benefitting the community at large, Elevate has seen CNM help them in getting a “better check on the pulse on what people need in Nashville.” This allows Elevate to serve the needs of the community rather than providing what they think the community needs. Elevate is plugged into many of CNM’s offerings including workshops, consulting, and the Collective Impact Learning Community. Being a part of these different areas has allowed Elevate to adapt and be responsive to the needs of the community.

In addition to addressing community need, Amy championed the network of expert consultants that CNM has. Being connected to other consultants provides a space for to problem solve, talk, and “create this shared language around things that really matter.” Building these relationships allows CNM consultants to be collaborative. Amy highlights that instead of being “in our own little evaluation game,” the relationships that she’s built at CNM have allowed Elevate to step outside their silo. Being connected to both CNM’s community and the Nashville community at large has contributed to Elevate’s growth and success. Elevate will continue to be an asset to CNM’s team for all evaluation needs.

Why were you interested in joining CNM’s consulting team?

At Elevate our core mission is working with nonprofits to improve their evaluation capacity, that’s really what we’re all about, how can we really work with nonprofits to advance, improve their skills and think about how they can better collect data but also learn from the data they’re collecting. And we knew that CNM is the primary resource for nonprofits in Nashville and so when we started talking about how to grow elevate and work to meet that mission we knew we had to work with CNM, that’s the only option. So getting plugged in with CNM and getting involved in multiple ways is really one of our key places we’re able to establish ourselves as a resource and work with CNM to achieve our mission.

What has been one of your highlights of working with a CNM client and why?

Not exactly a specific client, but its more about the kinds of clients we get to work with at CNM. So we work with a lot of different organizations across Nashville, different sizes and different types (nonprofit, govt.), different kind of spaces. But through CNM we’ve really gotten to work with a lot of smaller organizations because of the access to the education funds. These smaller organizations might not have the resources like those bigger ones that have access to those dollars and they can use those to access consulting resources, that’s allowed us to work with organizations we may or may not have gotten to work with otherwise. And for us that’s really some of the most meaningful work, getting to work with organizations who are really on the ground and embedded in those communities that they’re serving. There doing excellent work and it gives us the opportunity to step in and help them kind of build infrastructure that helps them better communicate their impact or help them access funding or whatever their end goal is that they’re coming to evaluation for.

How have you seen yourself grow during your time as a CNM consultant?

We started consulting with CNM pretty early in Elevate’s life so we’ve grown exponentially since we’ve been able to start consulting at CNM and part of that I think is being able to be involved in a lot of CNMs programming. We’re doing workshops and we’re doing consulting and we are involved in the Collective Impact work. We’re kind of got our hands in all the different places. Not only has that allowed us to establish credibility and network and share what we’re doing but we’ve also been able to have a better check on the pulse on what people need in Nashville because we’re involved in all the different things and we’re able to say we met this person at a workshop at they really talked about this need and how can we align ourselves to meet that need. We’ve been able to be plugged in to all the different spaces and be responsive to that and adapt and build Elevate around what people actually need in the community rather than what we think they need.

How has being a part of CNM’s team differed from other consulting experiences?

The biggest thing is getting to work with other smaller organizations but also being connected to other consultants. The opportunity that CNM provides to come together in a room where we don’t have to worry about paying, we just did the collective impact intensive, and sit and talk with other consultants and create this shared language around things that really matter and build those relationships with other consultants so that we can make referrals if we need to or collaborate on certain projects. That I think has been one of the biggest benefits of working with CNM and it’s different because otherwise we’re hanging out in our silo, in our little evaluation game by itself.

What insight have you gained during your time as a CNM consultant?

I think the biggest thing is conversations we’re starting to have around equity. And this is a big priority for elevate and issues around equity were already at the forefront of our work but being able to talk about that and see how other consultants are thinking about it and obviously CNM is a leader in the community and being able to see how CNM is thinking about it and how other people are adapting their work around equity has been so beneficial to us. It’s given us some urgency around it to force us to have those conversations in more detail and I think that benefits not only the consultants and the people who are working with CNM but also nonprofits and obviously the community at large. That was just a huge benefit of CNM driving that conversation and making that a priority so that is probably the biggest thing. The other thing that comes up a little bit is the credibility that CNM has and the relationships in the community being able to have CNM on our side we can say we’re CNM consultants and that carries weight in the community. Not necessarily something we’ve gained but it’s certainly helped us trying to grow in scale.

To learn more about Elevate consulting, see their website or sign up for Elevate’s next CNM workshop.

Interested in working with Elevate consulting or another one of CNM’s expert team? Check out more information on beginning a consulting engagement and familiarize yourself with our list of experts.

Have further questions or interested in becoming a CNM consultant? Email consulting@cnm.org.