A utilization-focused, participatory approach for evaluating grant-making programs

Type: Oral Presentation
Date: October 2018


Ranjani K. Paradise,  Eileen M. Dryden, Justeen Hyde, Leah Zallman. “A utilization-focused, participatory approach for evaluating grant-making programs”, Presented at 2018 AEA Annual Conference, Cleveland, OH


The array of funded initiatives within a grant program often have very different activities and project-specific goals. Foundations face the challenge of evaluating diverse initiatives in a meaningful way that tells the story of how the funding mechanism as a whole advances the foundation’s mission. Here, we describe a utilization-focused, participatory approach that the Institute for Community Health used to evaluate the Partnership for Community Health grant program in Massachusetts. A two-level logic modeling framework tied grantee-specific outcomes to the grantmaker’s overarching goals. Tailored evaluation plans allowed grantees to gather data that was meaningful to them, and evaluation reports combined a bird’s-eye view of program impact with details on each grantee’s progress. A collaborative approach emphasizing learning and growth enabled open discussion of challenges and associated recommendations that were shared with the grantmaker. The overall process ensured that the evaluation was relevant and useful to grantees and the grantmaker alike.

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