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Academic/Philanthropic Partnership Puts Non-Profits to the Test

A unique partnership between Duquesne University and The McWilliams Group, a professional services firm specializing in the business of philanthropy, will take advantage of the university’s expertise in the field of program evaluation to benefit non-profit organizations.

The McWilliams Group will enlist Duquesne graduate students, faculty and research associates, marshalling the collective brainpower of the Department of Educational Foundation and Leadership’s resources, to design custom evaluation and measurement tools and methodologies, perform research and present findings and recommendations for a wide range of projects that benefit minority and other nonprofit causes. The firm is dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness and impact of both investors in charitable giving – corporations, foundations, individuals - and nonprofit service providers.

Duquesne is well positioned to provide the needed expertise. In addition to offering a master’s degree and certificate programs in evaluation, the Department of Foundations and Leadership is home to the Center for Evaluation, Research and Policy Analysis, as well as the Graduate Evaluation Diversity Internship Program, a collaboration with the American Evaluation Association designed to open up the evaluation profession to graduate students of color.

Professional Evaluators combine technical knowledge in a given subject with objective quantitative and qualitative information gathering techniques, and that expertise is indispensable when organizations want to judge the effectiveness of products, personnel, policies and programs. More than ever, non-profits are expected by donors and other constituents to demonstrate the impact of their efforts.

According to Dr. Rodney Hopson, chair of the Department of Foundations and Leadership, joining forces with the McWilliams Group holds great promise.

“This demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships to harness the combined talents of the academic community, including those of students of diverse backgrounds, for the greater good,” Hopson said. “The potential of this work and this partnership is far-reaching.”

Dr. Paul A. McWilliams, chairman of The McWilliams Group, agrees and stresses that the new partnership can help improve the effectiveness of philanthropic programs.

“Measurement is our mantra,” McWilliams said. “For a non-profit organization to grow and thrive, it must think and act like a business, so a robust program of measurement has become central to everything we do.”

Duquesne’s work with The McWilliams Group will range from evaluating existing market research and presenting findings to creating evaluation programs and data collection instruments from scratch.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.