Evaluation of Local Funding Partnerships: Analyzing the Factors That Influence Sustainability and Replication of Projects After Funding Ends

Evaluation conducted February 2002 through May 2004

    • February 4, 2009

The Program Being Evaluated

The Foundation's Local Initiative Funding Partners Program, now called Local Funding Partners, is a matching grants program designed to establish partnerships between the Foundation and local grantmakers in support of innovative, community-based projects that improve health and health care for underserved and vulnerable populations.

About the Evaluation

One of the desired outcomes for many projects, especially service demonstrations, is their sustainability after grant funds have been expended. RWJF commissioned Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., (MPR) conducted a survey in 2002–2003 that followed projects after Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funding ended. They specifically looked at 120 projects funded through the Local Initiative Funding Partners program between 1986 and 2001. The survey found that 75 percent of these projects survived and continue operation today.

Knowledge and Impact

After tracking the survival of 112 LIFP projects that ended their RWJF funding during the period 1986–2001, 92 percent survived at least one year, while 80 percent were still operating in 2002. Thirty-four percent of the projects were replicated by another organization. Project-related factors that contributed to survival include:

  • host organization support and strong project management that secures local philanthropic support,
  • develops revenue-generating activities,
  • builds up individual donor pools,
  • capitalizes on technical assistance on fundraising, and
  • disseminates stories of project success.

Sixty-one percent obtained subsequent funding from other foundations; fifty-nine percent from public revenues; fifty percent from individual donors; forty-two percent from corporate donors; thirty-five from client fee or services; and twenty-four percent from United Way.

MPR also found that, among the surviving projects, evaluation may have been critical to subsequent funding; 92 percent had evaluated their activities, and 50 percent of surviving projects believed that a positive evaluation had been important to promoting their sustainability. While evaluation professionals may regard these percentages as low, they seem high to many nonprofit and foundation staff.