A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to participate in a peer learning opportunity organized by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations on “Making a Difference through Responsive Grantmaking”. Meyer Memorial Trust was leading the show and it became clear that many came to the conversation looking for answers and best practice recommendations. In response and in preparation for the next call, our very own, Nina Gantcheva, pulled a couple resources from the TRASI database that may help participants and other responsive grantmakers to better assess the impact they are having. Please take a minute to review the resources below and be sure to comment if you have used any of the tools listed.
General Tools for Responsive Grantmakers:
Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: This best practice provides guidelines on values (e.g., provides at least 50 percent of its grant dollars to benefit lower-income communities, provides at least 25 percent of its grant dollars for advocacy), effectiveness (e.g., provides at least 50 percent of its grant dollars for general operating support), ethics (maintains an engaged board of at least five people who include among them a diversity of perspectives including of the community it serves and who serve without compensation), and commitment (pays out at least 6 percent of its assets annual in grants, invests at least 25 percent of its assets in ways that support its mission) criteria for evaluating philanthropy. It does not include scoring system, relative weighting system, or ranking. Sponsor: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Collective Impact: This paper, based on six months of interviews and research by FSG Social Impact Advisors, examines twenty efforts to develop shared approaches to performance, outcome, or impact measurement across multiple organizations. The accompanying appendices include a short description of each system and four more in-depth case studies. Here is an earlier post the Foundation Center wrote about this concept which includes an annotated list of TRASI tools (some of which are also included below).
The call was organized around three questions so we have tried to compile the tools along the same format:
1) Program and Policymaking Evaluation: This is a best practice on how to make effective decisions about program funding and support. It addresses cross-cutting programming and policy decisions and utilizes information gathered and synthesized from both project level and cluster level evaluation. Sponsor: W.K. Kellogg Foundation
2) Outcomes and Impact Frameworks: Offers 14 sets of field-specific outcomes and data collection strategies and sources (downloadable as PDFs). Also provides a taxonomy of nonprofit outcomes. Sponsor: Center for What Works and Urban Institute
3) Social Impact Assessment: This is a best practice that provides the following guidelines a) conceptual: funders and grantees should align goals, assessment tools, and best practices b) operational: grantees and investors should acknowledge evaluation expenses as part of the cost of doing business, invest in measurement systems and tools, and develop examples of proven impact c) structural: each field and subfield should explore a range of possible outcome goals and best practices for measurement d) practical: a commitment to outcomes assessment can be a fundamental part of the management structure and organizational culture among funders and nonprofits. Sponsor: Rockefeller Foundation, Goldman Sachs Foundation
4) A Guide to Actionable Measurement: Offering useful best practices and examples, this guide is the result of a year-long cross-foundation effort to develop common principles, approaches, and taxonomies to help Gates staff decide how best to allocate time and resources for data collection and analysis. Three principles guide the Gates Foundation's approach to actionable measurement: 1) Measurement should inform specific decisions and/or actions; 2) We do not measure everything, but we do strive to measure what matters most; 3) The data we gather help us learn and adapt our initiatives and strategies. The guide includes a results matrix, results hierarchy, definitions of related terms, and measurement guidelines intended to shape internal decisions about the depth, breadth, and rigor of measurement across grants and within strategies. It also highlights the best practices the Gates Foundation aspires to follow to be good stewards of our resources and not increase the reporting burden of grantees or distract them from their work. Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
5) Success Measures Data System: A comprehensive, web-based evaluation module that includes a pool of field-specific indicators, a set of data collection tools, a reporting function, and web-based data storage. Also offers technical assistance. Sponsor: NeighborWorks America
1) Project Streamline Grantmaker Assessment Tool: This tool is an online survey that generates a comparative report about your grantmaking processes. It enables you to compare these processes to those of other funders, as well as to the principles described in the report, "Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose." It will also help you to determine the costs of these processes to both your organization and your grantseekers. Once you have completed the survey, you will be able to download a comparative report that you can use to stimulate discussion within your organization about current processes and opportunities for improvement. Sponsor: Center for Effective Philanthropy, Grants Managers Network
1) Strategy Landscape: The Strategy Landscape™ is an online, interactive data visualization tool that allows groups of funders to easily see and understand grant making strategies and patterns within and across institutions. Delivered by the Center for Effective Philanthropy and created by the Monitor Institute, the tool addresses challenges of communication and collaboration between funders by allowing users to understand who is funding what by strategy. Tool participants are better able to assess the strategic funding landscape, make informed giving decisions and achieve their impact goals. Sponsor: Center for Effective Philanthropy, Monitor Institute
2) The Readiness for Organizational Learning and Evaluation (ROLE) Instrument: This tool is designed to help an organization determine its level of readiness for implementing organizational learning and evaluation practices and processes that support it. The instrument’s results can be used to: 1. Identify the existence of learning organization characteristics; 2. Diagnose interest in conducting evaluation that facilitates organizational learning; 3. Identify areas of strength to leverage evaluative inquiry processes; 4. Identify areas in need of organizational change and development. The organization may use the results to focus its efforts on improving or further strengthening areas that will lead to greater individual, team, and organizational learning. Sponsor: FSG, Hallie Preskill and Rosalie T. Torres
3) Learning for Results: This is a best practice in the form of an action guide for grantmakers that focuses on how foundations can create a deliberate culture of learning so that they are better equipped to improve decision-making, lead change and achieve better results. Sponsor: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
4) Building Capacity to Measure and Manage Performance: An article that outlines recommendations to help nonprofits and their funders build their capacity to demonstrate their impact. It focuses on leadership, incentives and expertise. Sponsor: The Bridgespan Group
5) For additional tools and resources, read the following TRASI Community blog post: Questions About (and Resources for) Conducting an Assessment: A Foundation's Perspective
If you have used any tools listed or would like to recommend some, please take advantage of the comment section below.