Throughout Your Interaction with Grantees

Engage your grantees in the evaluation design and implementation. Many grantees feel cautious or hesitant when working with foundations on capacity building, which can color the funder-grantee interaction, especially when it comes to assessment.

One way foundations are addressing this is by engaging grantees more in the design and then implementation of capacity-building evaluation strategies. Melinda Fine, vice president at NEO Philanthropy, explained how its Four Freedoms Fund has quantitative metrics that were developed by the cohort of grantees it engaged on immigrant’s rights: “It’s been a very participatory and iterative process with the grantees to identify what we’re looking for in terms of organizational growth,” says Fine. “The metrics are transparent and the data is shared among members of a cohort so the groups are able to gauge their organizational progress relative to their peers. Making assessment a grantee-owned endeavor helps ensure that grantees themselves are learning about the change that is or is not happening from capacity-building support. This evaluation and learning then becomes part of the capacity building itself, rather than an onerous mandate forced upon them.”

Get creative and make choices based on what you and your grantees have capacity to evaluate. Whether you’re a one-person shop or a large foundation with staff all over the world, you may have grand designs on a metaanalysis of your capacity-building investments. You care about capacity building and want to demonstrate its value in a way that encourages greater foundation investment. But, at the end of the day, you probably have limited bandwidth and money to execute something too elaborate. Same with your grantees. That means you probably need to get creative and make choices about where to focus your grantee capacitybuilding assessment efforts.

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 Supporting Grantee Capacity.