3 Reasons to Evaluate Your Grantmaking

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, but I am not sure many foundations fully believe that. In the course of working with foundations across the country, I have made a somewhat surprising discovery: Many foundations grossly underestimate the importance of evaluating impact. This is unfortunate, because evaluation is both enlightening and empowering. In fact, measuring impact can give you power to ultimately increase that impact. Here are five reasons why foundations should regularly conduct evaluations. 1.  Evaluate to measure impact. The first reason to conduct evaluations is plain and simple: How will you know if you have had any influence unless you evaluate the effectiveness of your grantmaking program? There is really only one way to learn what the … Continue reading 3 Reasons to Evaluate Your Grantmaking

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

6 Ways to Engage Your Stakeholders: Let the Key Players Improve Your Program’s Success

Key stakeholders have much to contribute to the decision-making process, and their involvement can dramatically improve the success of any funding program. We’ve identified six ways to engage stakeholders and benefit from their input. First, there are three types of stakeholders: Those most directly impacted by the problem you are trying to solve Those who are attempting to solve the problem Those who could be solving the problem with you, if they knew their role or realized that the problem exists All three categories of stakeholders can be discussed at greater length. For now, let’s take a look at how they can help you in your grantmaking. 1. Understanding In the early stages of your grantmaking and program development, you … Continue reading 6 Ways to Engage Your Stakeholders: Let the Key Players Improve Your Program’s Success

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

Invest in the Strategic Communications Capacity of Policy Grantees

This is a guest post by Lora Smith, Communications Officer at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Public policy discussion has always been a cornerstone of American democracy. Policy change can’t happen without constructive public discourse and influence. Getting to that influence involves persuasive conversations and well-framed messages. Policy advocacy organizations must reach and effectively communicate to diverse audiences, and continually deliver compelling data and narratives in order to achieve their desired outcomes. At its very core, policy advocacy is an exercise in strategic communications. However, a recent report from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation finds that policy advocacy organizations may suffer from a lack of capacity when it comes to communications, frustrating their attempts to change conversations and ultimately change … Continue reading Invest in the Strategic Communications Capacity of Policy Grantees

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

The Power of a Communications Plan: Why You Need One Now, and How to Get It Rolling

One of the most important — yet overlooked and underestimated — actions foundations can take to ensure the success of their grantmaking initiatives is to develop and implement a comprehensive communications plan. Believe me, I know that this is tough to do at the beginning of your grantmaking program, when you’re in the middle of planning and launching. But I also guarantee you that if you don’t prioritize communications planning now, you’re going to pay the price later, when your grantees and partners aren’t coordinated and stakeholders and other funders are confused by what you’re trying to do. The good news is that there are three simple things you can do immediately: Make communications a priority right now. This can’t … Continue reading The Power of a Communications Plan: Why You Need One Now, and How to Get It Rolling

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

Oops, I Forgot to Evaluate! 3 Easy Steps for Retrospectively Evaluating Your Funding Initiative

It’s year five of your five-year funding initiative, and you need to report progress to your board. You’re thinking, “Darn, I wish I had included evaluation planning when we developed this initiative. Now I’d have a better way to show our results.” Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. Many funders don’t fund or even think about evaluation at the outset. However, there are three things you can do retrospectively to learn from the past and inform your future. I recommend enlisting the help of an external evaluation consultant, who will be more objective, will be able to devote the time needed, and will be more likely to elicit honest feedback from grantees and stakeholders. Conducting a retrospective evaluation is … Continue reading Oops, I Forgot to Evaluate! 3 Easy Steps for Retrospectively Evaluating Your Funding Initiative

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

Call for Papers On Philanthropy Consulting

The Foundation Review has issued a Call for Papers for an issue focused on philanthropy consulting. The March 2015 themed issue, co-edited by the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers,  will explore quality, trends and impact in a significant component of philanthropic practice. Abstracts of up to 250 words are due by May 15, 2014. If a full paper is invited, it will be due by August 15, 2014 for consideration for publication. Papers are invited on topics including, but not limited to: Scope and scale. To what extent do grantmakers and funder networks retain consultants, and for what purposes? Role. Why do foundations hire philanthropy consultants? What are the roles of philanthropy consultants? How do roles vary by grantmaker … Continue reading Call for Papers On Philanthropy Consulting

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

One Question Guaranteed to Save Funders Time and Money, and Achieve Results

In my experience, the most effective foundations do one thing without fail – they ask the question guaranteed to save time and money, and achieve results. That question is this: “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?” If you ask that question of your grantees, other organizations working on the same issue, and other foundations that have attempted to do what you’re trying to do, I guarantee you will reap the benefits. Listen to what they have to say, implement their suggestions, and you will save your foundation staff time, financial resources, and headaches. You will also have a much more successful grantmaking program, and it will happen much faster than if you hadn’t asked … Continue reading One Question Guaranteed to Save Funders Time and Money, and Achieve Results

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >