Evaluation

As Wiregrass Foundation is committed to being a good financial steward and to evaluating the effectiveness of our investments through grantmaking. At every stage of our review — in particular during the grantmaking and evaluation processes — we ask ourselves these questions

  • Does this project align with our strategic goals, objectives, and current areas of interest?
  • Is this project designed to achieve the maximum impact possible?
  • Are there adjustments that can be made to yield better results?

Tips for Measuring Outcomes and Benchmarks

In the grant application, you were asked to describe the expected outcomes of your project. The focus here was on the objectives of outcomes, not processes.

So what is the difference? Process objectives can be important, and you may certainly include some of these in your proposal. However, applications must also include outcome objectives that are measurable and can be tied directly to the benchmarks described in your application.

Process Objectives

Process objectives describe an activity. They usually define what is going to happen during a project, but do not focus on the critical result for which the funding is requested.

Process objectives may tell us who, what, when, where, but they do not directly measure the result. To demonstrate, we will use a fictitious application from a school system wanting to integrate technology into its classrooms to increase student engagement and performance.

Process Objectives Examples

By August, 20XX, 50 teachers will participate in professional development

– OR –

Five smart classrooms will be completed and in use by the end of the project

– OR –

Students will be more likely to exchange ideas with one another and with the teacher

These activities are important, but they do not provide any evidence of increased student engagement and performance, whereas a measurable objective would show these increases.

Outcome Objectives (Measurable)

A measurable outcome objective describes a direct result. It shows the critical impact of the project—in this case, the desired outcome is to increase student engagement and performance.

Outcome Objectives Examples

By August 20XX, students will improve from the 75th to the 90th percentile on the National Assessment of Student Engagement

– OR –

Behavior referrals for students using smart classrooms will be 15% lower than the average for other classrooms

– OR –

After one year of effective use of technology in the classroom, student class grade point averages will increase from 2.0 to 2.4 in math and from 1.7 to 2.1 in English

Note that “measurable” does not always mean “quantifiable.” Qualitative measures are also useful. However, applications for large projects should consider and propose appropriate quantitative benchmarks.

With measurable outcome objectives, you will know (and we will know) if the critical goals of your project have been achieved. The development of clear, results-oriented objectives also makes it much easier to address the specific data indicators and/or benchmarks for success required in the grant application. Instruments to measure success may include tests, surveys, focus groups, or interviews depending on the specific targets you are trying to reach.