Grantmaking

Grant Evaluation

Overview

Evaluation and research are integral to the Jim Joseph Foundation’s philanthropy. The learnings they yield benefit the Foundation, grantee partners, and the fields of Jewish education and engagement.

Support of program evaluation emphasizes the Foundation’s values of data informed decision-making, accountability, and transparency. Most importantly, the process of evaluation builds the capacity of organizations to implement programs strategically and increases the likelihood of successfully attaining desired outcomes. All of this leads to increased sustainability and impact for the program and grantee organization.

The importance of an evaluation framework is first communicated through the Foundation’s instructions for major grant proposals to articulate outcomes and evidence of success – in other words, “what changes do you hope occur and how will you know?” Grantees are encouraged to identify outcomes related to output (i.e., # of participants) and to longer-term outcomes (i.e., changes in knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors).

The Foundation typically supports contracts with external evaluators for major, multi-year grant investments. These evaluators use selective research methodologies to document, describe, measure, interpret, and analyze how well a particular program or intervention succeeds and identifies areas for improvement. The first key activity of most evaluations is to develop a logic model based on the proposed outcomes and evidence of success, but these may be refined once all stakeholders have weighed in -- and bought in, which is important for a program’s success.

Another key activity is to develop evaluation questions. What does the grantee want to learn over the course of the grant period based on the logic model? An individual evaluation is developed and implemented through a highly interactive process, in which personnel from the evaluation team, the grantee partner, and the Jim Joseph Foundation may work together. In these cases, the Jim Joseph Foundation uses this process to build mutual understanding and trust with the grantee partner so that both parties learn together about a particular grant and recognize what will help the grantee achieve positive outcomes.

After more than ten years of grantmaking, the Foundation is working towards common measurements across grants that have related goals, objectives, and desired outcomes; and towards conducting evaluations of cohorts of grants that have shared purposes and similar grant outcomes. This is a field building effort that is designed to advance both the collection and use of evaluation information and data to improve Jewish education.

To dive deeper into our Grant Evaluations, go to the Learning & Resources section.

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