Funding for Impact: How to Design Strategic Grantmaking Programs
Historically, philanthropic foundations have rarely had to justify the use of their funds as long as they were being directed to the public good. However, funders in Australia and overseas are increasingly attempting to demonstrate the impact of their grantmaking. The TCC Group, a US-based consulting firm that works with philanthropic foundations and corporate citizenship programs, has produced "Funding for Impact: How to Design Strategic Grantmaking Programs" to assist funders designing new grants programs, as well as those rethinking existing programs.
The TCC Group briefing paper states:
"Summative evaluations are helpful in showing what happened as a result of grantmaking, but all too often the findings do not influence future funding — the program is over, and the donor has moved on to new issues or strategies. The most significant way to increase the effectiveness of a foundation's grantmaking is to focus on the first steps in the process: grants program design.
Though most funders spend considerable time thinking about the issues they hope to address, they spend inadequate time up front thinking through the impact they would like to have with their grantmaking and how to allocate their resources to achieve their goals.
Starting a new philanthropic program is both exciting and daunting. There are so many social problems to be addressed, and so many possible ways of addressing them, that the strategic choices can be overwhelming. For funders reviewing and revising existing programs, there are generally more parameters and more knowledge about what has — and what hasn't — worked well. Whether reshaping an existing program or developing a new program, funders are faced with a similar set of questions, including: What criteria can be used to determine which issue is most pressing? How can you know which grantmaking approach best lends itself to a particular issue? How do you find those elusive "leverage points" funders always seem to be talking about?
Building on TCC Group's twenty-six years of experience in strategic philanthropy. The paper provides a logical process to help guide you through the many questions raised when designing grant programs. To be clear, designing a grant program is undeniably complex and requires time and thoughtfulness; there is no single "right way" to develop a strong program. However, by following a series of thoughtful steps, covering the critical questions and including the appropriate people, you increase the likelihood that you will develop an effective program."