How We Work

Blue Tent helps progressive donors give with maximum impact. We use research and in-depth reporting to evaluate both electoral and nonprofit organizations. In all cases, we seek to answer key questions donors are likely to ask and share our findings in background briefing papers. The briefs also offer guidance as to whether donors should give to a specific group. 

Key Questions We Seek to Answer

Is this organization seeking to advance progressive values? We only evaluate groups committed to progressive values, including: social and economic inclusion, ecological sustainability, and global interdependence. 

Is it a top leader in its space—or have the potential to be? We recommend organizations that are among the most effective groups working on a set of issues, in an electoral arena, or in a specific place. We also recommend early-stage or smaller organizations and seek to identify high-impact, but low-profile, groups—especially those working in low-income communities of color and rural areas. 

Does it have a persuasive theory of change and realistic strategy? We recommend organizations that are guided by a compelling vision of how and why a desired change can happen—and have a realistic strategy to help accelerate such change.

Is there strong evidence of its impact? We recommend organizations that have a strong track record of impact that we can independently confirm, or those with promising early results.

Does it have a plan to achieve future impact? We recommend organizations with clear and persuasive plans for achieving impact in the future, including specific goals, milestones, and projected outcomes. We also recommend organizations that show an ability to recognize and adapt to major cultural and political shifts.

Does it have strong leadership and governance? We recommend organizations with highly effective leaders that have a strong vision, excellent management skills, who are skilled at collaboration, and who can effectively communicate an organization’s mission to attract allies and raise money. Recommended organizations should also have an engaged and high-quality board or fiscal sponsor that provides real oversight, especially on financial matters. 

Is it diverse and culturally competent? We recommend organizations that have a diverse leadership team, staff and board (or are actively working toward this goal), are culturally competent, and are equipped to operate within a multiracial progressive coalition. 

Is its financial house in order? We recommend organizations that are well-run financially—with strong budgeting processes, regular independent audits of expenditures, reasonable financial transparency, and clear policies to prevent conflicts of interest. 

Is it respected by its peers? We recommend organizations that are respected by other groups in its field—because they are seen as playing an essential role, collaborate well in partnerships, and deliver on plans. We believe that real progressive change cannot be achieved by a single campaign or organization, and that recognizing the need for collaboration is a necessity for any serious movement partner.

How We Make Recommendations

Blue Tent shares its research into the questions above in published background briefs. To help guide donors to the best giving opportunities, these briefs also include specific guidance based on two criteria: the overall quality and effectiveness of an organization; and how much donors should prioritize an organization given the relevance of its mission at a given moment and its financial needs. 

We strongly recommend the highest quality and most effective organizations. We recommend organizations that are effective, but are not top leaders in their space or need to improve. We suggest donors consider organizations that play an important role, but need to do a lot of work to reach their potential. 

We assign a high priority to organizations that are engaging in timely, urgent work and also have a strong need for additional financial support. We assign a priority to organizations that are doing important, but less urgent work, and/or don’t have a strong need for more resources. We assign a low priority to organizations that are doing less urgent work and/or don’t have any need for more resources at the time.

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We welcome feedback and ideas. We’re always looking to improve our methods and challenge our own assumptions. Please get in touch with thoughts and suggestions by sending an email to: editors@bluetent.us