The mixed impact of impact evaluation

David Bonbright

Impact evaluation is a reality in the non-profit world, as is evident from this issue of Alliance. We do not actually know, however, how those who work in the non-profit field perceive it. Do those who depend on grants for their operations and those who provide these grants believe the current methods of evaluating non-profit progress are valid? Are these evaluation methods conducive to improving organizational effectiveness? Do grantmakers and grantseekers look at the evaluation process in the same way? To learn more about these perceptions, Alliance and Keystone surveyed organizations in the civil society sector during September and October 2007.

Approximately 300 people responded to the survey, 226 (76 per cent) representing organizations that are primarily grantees and 72 (24 per cent) representing those that are mainly donors.[1] The survey respondents replied to announcements in newsletters and websites aimed at a civil society audience. As such, they were self-selecting and not part of a scientific survey. A consequence of this – and one that should be kept in mind when reading the results – is that the grantmakers who took part were not funders of the grantees who did, which means that none of the respondents is talking about exactly the same experience of evaluation. This caution should be borne in mind when reading the figures, and in particular when making comparisons between the two groups. Nevertheless, their responses provide an interesting view of the perspectives of this group of donors and grantees.

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US and European philanthropy must collaborate

Barry Gaberman