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Five Tips for Your End-of-Year Giving Impact Assessment

December 27, 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, donors are wrapping up their annual giving plans and turning their sights towards the new year. But before embarking on a new giving journey, it’s important to take a look back and assess the effectiveness of your giving strategies. This kind of reflection can help provide essential information moving forward – what worked, what didn’t, and what changes should be made?

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ Assessing Impact guide provides a solid structure for measuring program effectiveness in five comprehensive steps:

  • Set expectations for what you want your assessment to accomplish. There are many reasons why donors complete assessments, such as holding grantees accountable for their funding, helping inform decisions moving forward, and confirming that the programs are functioning as intended. How will you use this new data?
  • Determine which approach is the best fit. Depending on how you will use the data collected in the assessment, there are multiple types of measurement that could frame the results in the most useful way. These approaches include goals vs outcomes, process evaluation, and ROI.
  • Decide on a level of assessment that is appropriate for the status of the project. In order to get an accurate picture of progress, it’s important to acknowledge the project’s current stage in its development. If a grantee is only one year into a five-year project, for example, the criteria against it would be measured should be different than if it were in the latter stages of the project.
  • Understand challenges in assessing impact. While donors are often optimistic about how much of a difference they are making, many of the social problems they seek to solve are very large scale and require long-term attention. It’s important to be realistic about the scope and timeframe your project will take and the challenges in measuring your success. Indeed, the broader the scope of the assessment, the harder and more expensive it is to produce useful information.
  • Build partnerships. As the classic adage suggests, we go farther when we go together. Before the grant is made, the donors and grantees should come to an agreement about division of responsibilities and reporting requirements.

Measuring impact can be challenging but very rewarding in the long term. With a strategic assessment plan, donors can feel more equipped to create effective programs.

Click here to learn more in our Assessing Impact guide.


Written by Melissa Blackerby of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors communications team.

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