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Introduction

Revised in mid-2016, this post covers guidance about the roles of evaluation in common grant application (CGA) forms. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Context

At least 20 associations of grant makers or other organizations in the United States publish a common grant application (CGA) form online. This post explores the instructions and questions about Evaluation and Evaluation Plans that they pose to applicants.

 

Other posts will explore the CGA in terms of required elements of proposals, applicant revenue sources, budget expense categories, and proposal length and format requirements. The end of the post explains the abbreviations that it uses.

 

Significance

As a collection, taken as a whole, the common grant application (CGA) forms provide insight into the questions and considerations that interest hundreds of private grant makers. Among other things, hey shed light on evaluation plans as elements of a complete proposal. And they differentiate evaluation plans, as attachments, from evaluation plans as required parts of complete proposal narratives.

 

Role of Evaluation

Out of the 20 providers of common grant application forms, two (or 10%) of them — DC and NY — give no instructions to applicants about Evaluation or Evaluation Plans. In addition, of the 18 CGA providers that do pose evaluation questions, four (or 22%) of them — AZ, CT, ME, and WA — do not present Evaluation as a separate proposal element.

 

In the table below, a Y (Yes) means that the CGA provider does give some instructions about Evaluation or Evaluation Plans. A plus (+) means that the CGA provider both gives instructions and includes Evaluation or Evaluation Plans — as such — as a distinct selection criterion in its instructions for proposal narratives. An asterisk (*) means that a CGA provider gives no instructions about Evaluation or Evaluation Plans.

 

  Common Grant Application Forms
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
CGA Provider NNG AZ CA CO CT DC IL ME MA ME MN MO NJ NY OH PA1 PA2 TX WA WI
Instructions Y Y Y Y Y   Y Y Y Y Y Y Y   Y Y Y Y Y Y
Criterion +   + +     +   + + + + +   + + + +   +
No Instructions           *               *            

 

All CGA States

 

Analysis

Among more frequent topics of Evaluation questions found on common grant application forms are:

  • How evaluation results will be used — NNG, CA, MI, MN. MO, OH, and WI
  • How the organization measures effectiveness – IL, ME, MO, NJ, WA, WI, and PA-2
  • How the organization defines (criteria) and measures success – IL, MI, MN, NJ, WA, WI, and PA-2
  • Anticipated results (outputs and/or outcomes) – MD, MA, NJ, WI, and PA-2
  • What assessment tools or instruments will be used — AZ, MO, PA-2, and TX
  • How the organization evaluates outcomes and/or results – CT, MD, OH, and PA-2
  • Who will be involved in evaluation — NNG, MN, and OH
  • How constituents and/or clients will be involved actively in the evaluation – MI, MN, and OH
  • How the organization measures short- and long-term effects or outcomes – MN, OH, and PA-2

 

Among less frequent topics of Evaluation questions on common grant application forms are:

  • What questions will evaluation address — NNG and AZ
  • Overall approach to evaluation — CO and WI
  • How the organization measures impact — CO and PA-1
  • Timeframe for demonstrating impact — CO and OH
  • What process and/or impact information the organization will collect – MD and TX
  • How the organization assesses overall success and effectiveness – MD and MA
  • How evaluation results will be disseminated – CA, MI, and OH

 

Among infrequent topics of Evaluation questions on common grant application forms are:

  • The organization’s plans for assessing progress toward goals – ME
  • The organization’s plans for assessing what works – ME
  • How the organization evaluates its programs – PA-1
  • How the organization has applied what it has learned from past evaluations – PA-1
  • How the organization monitors its work – WA

 

Sources

Below is a list of abbreviations used in this post. The common grant application forms are found on their providers’ websites.

  • 1.   NNG: National Network of Grantmakers
  • 2.   AZ: Arizona Grantmakers Forum
  • 3.   CA: San Diego Grantmakers
  • 4.   CO: Colorado Nonprofit Association
  • 5.   CT: Connecticut Council for Philanthropy
  • 6.   DC: Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
  • 7.   IL: Forefront (Chicago area)
  • 8.   ME: Maine Philanthropy Center
  • 9.  MA: Associated Grantmakers
  • 10. MI: Council of Michigan Foundations
  • 11. MN: Minnesota Community Foundation
  • 12. MO: Gateway Center for Giving
  • 13. NJ: Council of New Jersey Grantmakers/Philanthropy New York
  • 14. NY: Grantmakers Forum of New York
  • 15. OH: Ohio Grantmakers Forum
  • 16. PA-1: Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia
  • 17. PA-2: Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania
  • 18. TX: Central Texas Education Funders
  • 19. WA: Philanthropy Northwest
  • 20. WI: Donors Forum of Wisconsin

 

 

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