I am back in my room after the 2017 WINGSForum session ‘Measuring philanthropy’s impact: development and quality of life’. I am supposed to be rushing off to the next session at the Forum but I wanted to take a moment to write down my reflections of the last session, some of which I was a little too shy to say in the room at the time!
During the discussion, the panelists were talking about the need of looking for alternative ways to evaluate impact, especially when some of the factors included in the assessment cannot be truly measured. What really matters, however, is whether the initiative in question is worth the donors’ support.
From the perspective of a grantee, I believe that measurement is a key factor in the process of building trustful relationships between donors and grantees. Sometimes, however, the strong need of the grantees to feel of being likeable in the eyes of donors, means they put all their efforts into adjusting their project to the measurement expected.
Instead of giving the project the flexibility to move forward with the planned activities, some donors try to reach the evaluation goals they set while the project is in progress. As a result, they end up not measuring anything substantive, but seem agreeable in the donor’s eyes, and therefore build support and trust with the grantees.
Tiding these thoughts with my previous reflections, where I wrote for the Global Fund for Community Foundations on ‘#HumbleThePower to #ShiftThePower‘, I believe this disposition of grantmakers to trust their grantees and ask them for better ways of evaluating their own initiatives, of being flexible and responsive; is one of the ways they can start ‘walking the talk’ by opening the path towards humility – and thus, towards shifting the power in the field of community philanthropy.
Fabiana Hernández Abreu is a board member of the Ibero-American Network of Community Foundations in Uruguay.
You can find more coverage from the WINGSForum 2017 here.