The Support for People Community Programs Evaluation Project

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Childers, Darryl


Owen, Jennifer Weinreb

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POLICY QUESTION How should Triangle Community Foundation (TCF) evaluate effectiveness of the strategy implemented through the Support for People portion of its discretionary grantmaking, and how should that evaluation be implemented?

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Triangle Community Foundation (TCF) is located in Durham, NC and serves a four county area. TCF assets of more than $175 million are spread among over 750 funds. The Foundation awards grants to nonprofit organizations that total about $14 million a year. The amount that is available for the Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking, however, is less than $1 million a year. TCF has created a Fund for the Triangle, meant to attract donors to give more to the Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking efforts, with the rationale that these dollars will be used in a more strategic way. In order to support the claim of the discretionary grantmaking being a way to have a more strategic impact on the community, the Foundation needs a way to evaluate and continually improve the effectiveness of this new approach. Additionally, given that discretionary grantmaking still has a limited pool of resources to draw from, it is even more important that TCF’s staff is able to maximize the impact of their grants. Based on interviews with experts in the field and TCF stakeholders, including Foundation staff, board members, and grantees, the researcher was able to identify an evaluation framework [pgs. 19] that will support the Foundation’s strategic plan. These interviews also provided insight into the challenges and benefits of evaluation that the researcher should consider in designing the framework [pg. 11]. These efforts resulted in an evaluation vision and framework for the Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking activities. This vision [pg.18] and framework are aligned with the values of the TCF strategic plan, and encourage positive funder-grantee relationships, and continuous learning on the part of all stakeholders. The framework begins with the recommendation that TCF staff create a theory of change for the discretionary grantmaking, and present that theory of change to grantees in one-on-one meetings or to the entire cohort in a group presentation. If the Foundation chooses to present the theory of change in one-on-one meetings, TCF staff could use the opportunity to complete the next step in the framework, getting feedback from current grantees individually. The framework continues by following the timeline of the current grant cycle, providing the vital information (the evaluation question, data collection method, main activities, person(s) responsible, date to be completed, and frequency) needed to complete each step. Each step of the framework is described in more detail in the pages that follow the framework tables [pgs. 21]. This vision and framework represent a first step of evaluation planning for the new grantmaking approach. The dates in the timeline, for example, will need to be adjusted as more information is available. Other parts of the vision and framework will also need to be adjusted and improved upon as the Foundation moves forward and learns from its grantmaking activities.





Childers, Darryl (2014). The Support for People Community Programs Evaluation Project. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.