The heartfelt purpose of Community Foundations is what keeps us all working so hard - putting effort and resources into building vital communities for now and for the future. And there's nothing more satisfying than seeing the progress and success that results from these investments. We all know success when we see it - or do we?
For those who haven't been intimately involved in the process, it can sometimes be more difficult to make the connection between what we did and what resulted - and that's why the task of measuring our work and assessing our impact, as fundholders, grantmakers and community leaders, is becoming increasingly important. Donors, funders, partners, grantees all expect community foundations (like other public bodies) to account for the work we do, the impact we have and the results we have achieved.
That's why assessment, measurement and evaluation are becoming increasingly vital skills in the toolkit of community foundations. These activities not only prove the value of our contribution - they also allow us to reflect, and improve, on the impact of our investments.
Increasingly, our sector is learning the value of starting with the end in mind, and building a formal evaluation component into all our major initiatives. There is no magic approach - each organization has to determine what will result in the most meaningful, persuasive and credible information for their stakeholders. Some organizations have rigorous methods of measuring their work, others do very minimal measurement. Yet there are a few key principles we can keep in mind, in thinking about measuring the work we do as community foundations.
You may find it helpful to review the 5 steps outlined in the buttons on the right-side of this page before deciding what to do next. We hope too that the evaluation-related resources that we've assembled in this toolkit will help you with this activity.
We offer links to a full range of practical how-to and more reflective resources, including approaches to evaluation and some of the best and current thinking about measurement.
You have two choices if you’d like to review the evaluation resources listed in this toolkit: