Evaluating Impact on People and Communities

“You get a much richer perspective from an individual. They’re not often asked to reflect on what they’re doing and why they’re doing what they’re doing. It curiously gets to mission better than an organizational grant.”...Getting that information, however, can sometimes be difficult, as one arts funder explained: “Individuals don’t engage with foundations in the same way as the professional staff [of an organization]. They’re more reluctant and seem to see the foundation as an anonymous institution. They’re also much less consistent in submitting required paperwork.”

Funders need to be careful about measuring the organizational or community impacts of individual grants, contributors said; the broader the impact being measured, the harder it is to ascribe it to the individual. Yet a successful program may bring changes to a community or field, even if attribution is difficult to trace. An individual grants program may help attract more funding to a field, promote innovation, strengthen networks, raise political awareness, speed the recovery of an entire community, or expand the horizons of members of a larger group. It may open the door to new approaches in health, social services, science, art, or any other field.

Grantees understood the need for reporting, and often found it beneficial to reflect on their work in a structured way. They also expressed mixed feelings about certain reporting requirements. One grantee suggests “guidance and brevity — perhaps a web-based form with, say, five questions.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Grants to Individuals.