Giving Compass' Take:

Hannah Paterson offers thoughtful questions and considerations to think about when evaluating the best practices for participatory grantmaking.

How can individual donors take away key lessons in power dynamics and evaluation of participatory grantmaking to make more strategic decisions about their charitable?

Learn more about the role of participatory grantmaking in philanthropy.

Before I left to explore participatory grant making in the USA and South Africa I asked those in the UK, and further afield what information they would find helpful to aid their work in this space. One of the most common responses I got back was ‘how are others measuring and evaluating participatory grant making?’.

I think there are three key questions needed to be asked and answered before you can plan your evaluation and ideally this would be built into the design and set up of your participatory approach.

  1. What is the driver for you using participatory grant making?
  2. Why are you evaluating this work?
  3. What part of the process do you want to evaluate?

I think it’s also important to explore and understand the power dynamics that occur through evaluation about whose needs you are serving.

Is evaluation and monitoring purely taking place to help answer questions that a funder is asking? Does this help or hinder communities? How can we approach evaluation in a way that doesn’t just add to the workload of a grant holder without providing them with added resources to do it? Can we re-imagine the ways that we do this so that it is as helpful for grant holders and communities as it is to foundation staff?

Often when we approach evaluation it is from the funders point of view. We have decided what we want to understand, and we dictate to grant holders what information they must collect and how they should share it regardless of whether this is the most interesting or impactful learning.

By understanding a variety of approaches to evaluation and thinking more creatively about learning and how we do and share it, conversations in this space become more exciting and less onerous.

Read the full article about participatory grantmaking by Hannah Paterson at Medium.