Title: Consulting and Evaluation with Non-Profit and Community-Based Organizations
Author : Judah J Viola & Susan D McMahon
Reviewed by Vincent T Francisco
Even a quick perusal of books in the business section of bookstores will reveal scores of books focused on organizational development, business start-ups, leadership development, decision making in difficult environments, and books about how to do consulting. However, Viola and McMahon’s book fits a particular niche in community psychology practice that other business books do not. This very useful and well-written book focuses on advice, examples, and guidance from some of the most note-worthy community practitioners in the field.
If you are setting up a consulting or evaluation practice, or even thinking of doing it, this book fills a unique place for community practitioners.
The author list is outstanding and includes many with vast experience in the field, as well as new voices with a fresh perspective. Penny Foster-Fishman, Gary Harper, Greg Meissen, Andrea Solarz, and many other well-known authors were involved in the development of the book chapters. The authors include tremendous diversity—from age and experience, to setting and background. It includes both University professors and small business owners.
Based mostly on case studies, examples, and how-to’s, every chapter has tools to use and lessons learned to guide improvement. The table of contents is comprehensive, with topics that include:
* Capacity building,
* Public policy,
* Developing your contracts with clients,
* Managing relationships,
* Organizational learning, and
* Developing your business plan.
Several of these areas are especially tricky areas that even the most experienced practitioners find challenging. Tools are included for those just getting started, and include templates for how to organize and conceptualize your practice. Other chapters include evaluation tools that focus not only on program improvement, but also improvement of the consultant and client relationship. How to write grants, and how to influence public policy are also covered. Examples (real ones, not pretend scenarios) are noted throughout, and several chapters include specific tools that have been used successfully in real community settings.
Whether just getting started, or improving an established business, this is a great resource. I am making this book required reading for students and full-time professionals working with me in my research and practice. I recommend to you that this is a book that no reference library of a community psychology practitioner should be without.
Vincent T Francisco
Vincent T Francisco is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Editor of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice.