I was very honored to be asked to review Grantmaking for Effective Organization’s Publication: Evaluating Community Change: A Framework for Grantmakers .One of the discussions that came up through this review process was the desire of funders to changepopulation-level outcomes, things like disease prevalence, access to health services, or crime rates.
While it is true that the changes at this level are ‘the ultimate evidence’ that the quality of life of communities has improved, it is extremely difficult to change these population-level outcomes and extremely difficult to measure the changes. But many funders are still under pressure to demonstrate changes at this level, regardless of what they fund or how much budget they have.
The evidence on place-based initiatives (e.g. Aspen Institute Voices from the Field iii, 2010) shows that billions of dollars and many third sector interventions have not been able to change population-level outcomes due to lack of capacity in the third sector, short term funding, and too little investments that are just not sufficient to change these population-level outcomes.
Additionally, change in health or crime rates may occur because of other sociopolitical factors that have little to do with funder’s interventions, or they may occur because of a combination of work of several funders, so it can be very difficult to isolate and capture the impact of a third sector program or intervention on these kinds of population-level outcomes.
Read the full framework here: