David and Lucile Packard Foundation Assessment of capacity building grants

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is quantifying capacity building grants through an algorithm that examines grant objectives, results, and lessons learned.  “We have an external evaluation team that reviews every Organizational Effectiveness (OE) grant at the time that it closes,” says Kathy Reich, director of organizational effectiveness grantmaking. “They review the grantee’s final report and then they talk to the OE program officer, and in some cases speak with other program officers at the foundation that have funded the organization. They look at the grant's original objective, it's results, lessons that were learned, and whether there was any programmatic impact as result of the OE grant that was provided. Then they assign the grant a rating from one to five: one for grants considered total failures and five for grants seen as transformational for organizations. Most grants get a three, which means they met their expectations.” This evaluation process is part of the OE programs monitoring evaluation and learning plan. Other elements of the OE program’s evaluation strategy include annual year-end reviews, which are publicly shared on the foundation’s OE Wiki site. The foundation is experimenting with some new assessment approaches, including a long-term impact interview process with sample of about 20% of OE grants one or two years after they close. “We’re asking grantees, ‘Now, a year or two later, what do you think about your grant now? What, if any, long-term impacts has it had?’" says Reich.

About the author(s)

Anna Pond Consulting