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Collaborating with Philanthropies on Evaluation

Rural organizations work collaboratively with philanthropies on evaluation activities. It is important to understand the philanthropy's expectations regarding evaluation.

There are several important topics to consider:

What are the philanthropy's requirements for the evaluation?

Philanthropies may have specific requirements for the evaluation: for example, requiring that grantees explore a metric of interest, such as social impact or study the program's impact on a specific population. Philanthropies may or may not require a robust evaluation plan. However, most philanthropies require rural organizations to report a few meaningful measures on a regular basis to show impact.

Many philanthropies require rural organizations to describe their evaluation approach in the grant application. To learn more about the types of questions that rural organizations should be prepared to answer, see Evaluation Questions.

Does the philanthropy provide technical assistance?

Many philanthropies will provide technical assistance to rural organizations, both during the application process and, when funded, to design an evaluation that identifies the program's impact.

Who pays for the evaluation?

Philanthropies may provide the rural organization with funding for an evaluation, separate from program funding, or may require that some funds be used to conduct an evaluation instead of program activities. Philanthropies may also work with an independent evaluator to assess the program's impact, in which case the organization would need to collaborate with this contractor.

Does the philanthropy have a logic model?

Philanthropies may have a logic model that they would like rural organizations to adhere to or may provide guidance for developing a logic model. For example, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has a logic model development guide for nonprofits.

Does the philanthropy have expectations regarding program impact, specifically the number of people served?

It is important to understand if the philanthropy has certain requirements or expectations surrounding impact, for example, the number of people served. Rural organizations may have very successful programs and services but inherently serve fewer people because the rural community has a low population density. Explaining this to prospective philanthropic partners was cited as a key challenge by rural organizations. Rural organizations may choose to partner with similar programs in other rural communities across their state or region, for example, the Appalachian region, and demonstrate the combined impact of their work.

Resources to Learn More

How to Construct Grant Performance Measures (Outputs and Outcomes): A Brief Guide for Home Region Grant Applicants
Document
Designed to help grantees and philanthropy project officers develop performance measures for evaluation.
Organization(s): The Walton Family Foundation

The Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluation: How to Become Savvy Evaluation Consumers
Document
Designed to help organizations conduct evaluations. Describes the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's principles of evaluation.
Organization(s): W.K. Kellogg Foundation