If you are a board or staff member of a small family foundation or funder group, chances are, grant evaluation falls last on your list. Perhaps you need to report progress to your board at an upcoming retreat, or you want to gauge where your philanthropic dollars have gone. As one of my long-time family foundation clients has said time and again: “We need to know if we’re making a difference.”
As we approach the winter months and the colder, darker days they bring (which, here in Austin, means a frigid 60 degrees…), many of my clients find it’s the perfect time for reflecting on what has worked well in their grantmaking, and what has not. They look to evaluation data to back that up. Luckily, evaluation can be much more simple than you think, and it’s never too late to get started.
I’m excited to share a new CivicAim case study with you: Designed to Learn, Evaluating Impact. This case study features my consulting work with the Sooch Foundation, a private independent foundation supporting education opportunities for the underserved in Texas. For the Foundation, I developed a rigorous--yet grantee-friendly--evaluation method to measure the Foundation’s results.
Because of CivicAIM’s counsel and evaluation design, the Sooch Foundation has elevated its ability to capture, measure, and pull data about its grantee partners and its overall performance. According to the executive director, “I now have the relevant data available for analysis by me and my board.” Today, the Foundation reaps the benefits of cross-communication, and a structured, intentional learning environment among grantees and Foundation staff.
What would it feel like for you to have the data you need to assess your impact in 2020?
While of course it’s better to include an evaluation plan at the start of a grantmaking initiative or cycle, it’s never too late to create meaningful questions and metrics once your project is underway or coming to a close. With the support of a philanthropy evaluation expert, you can conduct a retrospective evaluation within weeks, giving your board what they need to make their most informed decisions.
“By routinely asking yourselves and grantees ‘how can we do better?,’ you and your board can bring about better outcomes to your grantmaking work.” -- Erica Ekwurzel
Entering into my seventh year of leading CivicAIM, I have had the good fortune to work with a diverse group of family foundations, funder collaboratives, and social enterprises. Through this experience, I have learned that when philanthropists have the skills and knowledge to be successful, they can easily and effectively achieve their vision. I’m proud to share the practices and lessons I’ve learned from working with clients to advance their philanthropy.
Click here to learn more about CivicAIM and the support and services I provide.
My values and approach at CivicAIM are simple:
CivicAIM is a philanthropy consulting firm focused on strengthening grantmaking, governance, and impact. CivicAIM supports mission-driven families, small-staffed foundations, funder collaboratives, and giving circles. Together with you, we develop and execute grant and evaluation strategies that lead you to impact, and we facilitate critical conversations and transitions that strengthen your board’s decision making.