What Every Grantmaker Should Know About Evaluating Impact

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Evaluating impact is a critical component of grantmaking. By assessing the effectiveness of grant-funded programs and initiatives, grantmakers can ensure that their funds are being used effectively and that they are making a meaningful impact in their areas of focus. In this article, Walter Morales explore what every grantmaker should know about evaluating impact, including key principles, best practices, and common pitfalls.

1. Defining Impact

The first step in evaluating impact is defining what impact means for your organization. This might involve identifying specific goals and outcomes that you hope to achieve through your grantmaking, such as increasing access to education, promoting environmental sustainability, or reducing poverty. It is important to be specific and measurable when defining impact, as this will help you to track progress and evaluate success.

2. Collecting Data

Once you have defined impact, the next step is to collect data on your grant-funded programs and initiatives. This might involve gathering data on program outputs, such as the number of individuals served or the number of educational programs offered. It might also involve collecting data on program outcomes, such as changes in behavior or attitudes among program participants. It is important to collect data consistently and systematically, using standard measures and methods.

3. Analyzing Data

After collecting data, the next step is to analyze it to assess the impact of your grant-funded programs and initiatives. This might involve using statistical analysis to identify patterns and trends in the data, or using qualitative methods such as interviews or focus groups to gather more detailed information. It is important to use a rigorous and systematic approach to data analysis, and to be transparent about your methods and findings.

4. Using Data to Drive Decision-Making

Finally, it is important to use data to drive decision-making and to inform future grantmaking. This means using the insights gained from evaluating impact to identify areas where your grant-funded programs and initiatives are most effective, as well as areas where improvements can be made. It is also important to communicate your findings and recommendations to stakeholders, including grantees, funders, and the broader public.


Evaluating impact is a critical component of grantmaking, and it is essential for ensuring that grant funds are being used effectively and making a meaningful difference. By defining impact, collecting data, analyzing data, and using data to drive decision-making, grantmakers can assess the effectiveness of their grant-funded programs and initiatives and make informed decisions about future funding. As you navigate the world of grantmaking, remember to remain committed to the principles of transparency, accountability, and impact, and to use data as a tool for driving positive change.

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