“Often our focus is so much on the technical aspects of evaluation that the communities are left out of the conversation.”—RWJF Program Officer Brenda Henry
Studying Multisite Place-Based Grantmaking
How do we measure things that are difficult to quantify, like community engagement?
Dates of Project: March 2011 to November 2012
Field of Work: Evaluating multisite, place-based initiatives
Problem Synopsis: Grantmakers are increasingly funding initiatives with many components to catalyze long-term, community-wide improvements. An example is improving high school graduation rates by funding a package of interrelated services (such as health and nutrition programs, after-school activities and leadership development). There has been little consensus on how to measure the overall success of these large-scale initiatives.
Synopsis of the Work: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations formed a 25-member “community of practice” that brought private and public funders together to share insights about evaluating multisite, place-based initiatives.
The community of practice created an opportunity for funders facing similar evaluation-related issues to gain insight from one another and to have their struggle validated by their peers. Members came together at a series of meetings, exchanged information on a private website, and participated in nine webinars.
They also produced a report, Building Community Capacity for Participation in Evaluation: Why It Matters and What Works, which lists five core principles for engaging meaningfully with communities.