Are you granting wishes or spreading curses, when it comes to evaluation support?

Posted on 17 Aug 2018

Once upon a time, there was a grantseeker fairy godmother, who provided more funding for evaluation, more clarity about the information required from grantseekers, a simpler submissions process, and gave them the chance to submit qualitative information in their reports.

But the fervent wishes for this kind of help are no fairy tale.

Instead, grantseekers revealed their biggest wishes when it comes to evaluations in the latest Grants in Australia 2018 research report, which examined the views of more than 2000 grantseekers from across the country.

It's just one of the practical findings we hope will hope will progress our Grantmaking Manifesto, and in particular, this expectation:

  • Grantmakers should listen to the communities they serve. Grantmakers should be driven by outcomes, not process. They should trust and respect their grantees and offer programs, systems and processes appropriate to their needs and capacities.

Here's more about what we found.

There's more demand for outcomes measurement

In line with national and international trends, 62% of surveyed grantseekers told us that grantmakers were putting a greater emphasis on outcomes measurement and reporting/evaluation from funding recipients than in the past.

That's up from about half of organisations reporting that pressure in last year's report, so it's no surprise that 70% of grantseekers said they had been required to provide a report, evaluation or acquittal for a grant in the past year.

Grantseekers need more funds, help for new measures

While most grantseekers felt the length of the reports they were expected to produce was "about right", only 17% thought the financial or non-financial help provided to enable them to produce those reports was adequate. This is even worse than our 2017 report's analysis, in which a paltry 22% described financial support as adequate.

This is where the wishes come into play, and grantseekers gave equal weight to each of their calls for funding support, information clarity, simpler submissions, and qualitative data options.

The research also revealed that the benefits of good evaluations often extend far beyond the initial work, with most organisations saying the process had meant their funder had a better understanding of their work (52%), and many using the analysis to understand or refine their work (43%), or in other ways (39%).

What's actually happening in the world of grant outcomes measurement

Amid the pleas for more help, we also sought details about the kinds of practices that are most common amongst grantseekers.

These findings include that:

  • Grantseekers are largely funding reporting/evaluation from their own reserves (72%)
  • Grantmakers are calling the shots in terms of how outcomes will be evaluated (41%)
  • Determining outcomes measurement methods and reporting is made at the application stage

The latest findings are consistent with the trend we've previously noted in the 2017 study, which also showed nearly two-thirds of large organisations (those with more than $1m in revenue) were facing those demands at a higher rate.

All of these findings, simply reinforce the need to better understand that if you're making demands of your grantees, seriously consider the kinds of support you are offering to make it happen.