The Community Foundation of Western Nevada announces the 2016 Partnership grants! The focus for the grants is evaluation of existing programming.
Why evaluate and measure impact? Identifying programs that work and the factors contributing to their impact helps maximize impact—whether providing nutritious meals to more people, teaching more kids to read, or reducing the impact on the environment. Evaluation defines the “success” of a program or organization; it gives the program provider proof that what they are doing is making a difference.
2016 Partnership grants will support nonprofits that are committed to evaluating their programs and measuring the impact of their work so that they can turn 1 success story into 1,000 similar success stories.
Qualitative and quantitative data help you tell a bigger, more comprehensive story of your work; this data can also help foster opportunities for collaboration and expand conversations about what’s working—and what’s not.
In 2010, the Community Foundation—along with United Way, Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Community Services Agency—applied for a grant from the Social Innovation Fund. We were not successful in our grant bid partly because our collaborative proposal could not demonstrate how we would measure outcomes and evaluate our work. Over the course of the last six years, we have continued the conversation about the importance of evaluating outcomes with many nonprofits in the community; we’ve learned that many nonprofits are not able to compete for money to solve complex community issues because they simply do not have the capacity or commitment to evaluate their programs. Therefore, money may be left on the table.
The evaluation of programs helps to provide the basis from which policy makers, organizations, donors and community members make informed decisions about program operations. Once an organization can identify programs that work and the factors contributing to their impact, that impact can then be maximized.
The Community Foundation, with the support of our board, has committed to big projects that require evaluative thinking and, with our Partnership grants in 2016 and beyond, we want to encourage a culture of evaluation by organizations that are currently employing evaluative measures. Evaluation is critical to bringing about and sustaining system change. The benefit to adopting a thorough evaluation plan is that it allows the donor to decide if an organization will be a reliable and impactful partner while providing a high level of accountability, transparency, and effectiveness for the nonprofit.
The Community Foundation and its board members believe it is our role to strengthen the community through philanthropy; with the 2016 Partnership grants, we strive to cultivate a structured approach where all sectors contribute to lasting change in our communities.
Past Chair and fund holder Jennifer Satre says, “I’m pleased the Community Foundation has chosen to focus Partnership grants on supporting nonprofits that are taking the plunge into evaluating their programs’ effectiveness. As a donor, knowing the organizations I support have made the commitment to learning from their own work—and making programmatic adjustments based on what they learn—increases my confidence that my support is being put to good use to address community needs.”
The Community Foundation Program Committee’s long-term goal is to support the community in achieving collective impact, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzmMk63ihNM. The evaluation process can ultimately help us to reach this goal. Our vision for ourselves and other organizations practicing evaluation is to be able to talk about why our work matters, to demonstrate the value of our work, and to strengthen organizations to be more consistent at being data-driven and results-focused.
Alicia Reban, executive director of Nevada Land Trust and Community Foundation board member, says: “The Community Foundation is uniquely positioned to help nonprofits in northern Nevada achieve excellence. They did it by instituting the 100% Giving Board award in 2008, which has helped nonprofits and their boards fortify their organizations. Focusing Partnership grants on evaluation for the next three years is fulfilling its mission to strengthen our community through philanthropy and leadership.”