“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
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.