August 1, 2013
For a couple years now a colleague and I have been working with a very small but incredibly interesting and dynamic youth-led grantmaking organization. This group motivates and inspires me. As evaluators, we’ve been trying to help the organization focus on measuring change in a way that’s meaningful to them and to the small organizations they support.
This client reminds us that most of the work for change happening around the world is at a very small scale, with staggeringly few resources, and by people who make unimaginable sacrifices. Like the manger of one grantee who was murdered after she pressed charges against a man who raped one of the sex workers in her program. While many of these organizations are accomplishing impressive changes, delineating progress to traditional outputs, outcomes and indicators isn’t helpful.
As evaluators, we’ve been trying to figure out how to help the grantmaker meaningfully measure changes catalyzed by these grants in both the organizations receiving the funds and in the marginalized communities they are working with. We’ve been working with them to make reporting less burdensome and more useful. Changing questions so they invite the analysis of the grantee about what has changed, and why. And putting numbers in context, so it’s not just a matter of counting how many more people have been served, but why the work matters.