The PublicationIn 2008 I authored a report that analyzed the success of the American Legacy Foundation’s Community Voices grantees.Profiled 4 grantees whose success the foundation wanted to trumpetThe report reflected input from the grantees through online reporting, phone conference calls, emails, etc. – general monitoring, in other words.Did anyone read it? Was it the proverbial tree falling in the forest?
When we talk about tracking and communicating success – how do we define success?In this picture, the space shuttle launch is a fairly binary equation – success = orbit; failure = challengerBut, it doesn’t convey the whole picture of what is success? Endeavour successfully launched but did the crew successfully meet its mission?So, how do we define success? (GROUP INPUT)Meeting objectives?Creating benefits for society?Learning from failure and adapting
What Factors to ConsiderAh yes, the famous logic model. Inputs / outputs and activities / outcomes (short and long-term). This example comes from a taskforce I was involved in.When tracking grantees, we often monitor them against a specific set of expectations. In some cases, those expectations are derived from thoughtfully designed logic models. In other instances, those expectations are more abstract. Grants for general operating support for example may have less tangible causal results.In either case, though, there is some level of expectation that the funds provided to the grantee will make a difference and generate impact. The variables that are tracked are at the core of the work for both grants managers and program officers. In many ways, they reflect important data points and accomplishments that are catalogued by both grants managers and program teams.
The normal course of a grantee’s relationship with the funder offers a series of accepted approaches to tracking its success. These include:Regular conference callsIn-person meetings; reverse site visits; board and team presentationsOn-site visitsPress releasesReportsOnline data Benchmark achievementsEach of these focus on what the organization is trying to accomplish and what it has managed to do with the funders money. But are there other ways to track grantee success:google alerts twitter posts and RSS feedsfacebook communication blog reach and issue reach
But successful communication about success also mean strong listening skills(GROUP QUESTION)Beyond the progress reports and the qualitative and quantitative figures provided by grantees, how else should we monitor and listen to our grantees?
I like to call this picture “Where Annual Reports End Up”As we look at communicating our grantees success, let’s reflect on where we publish those stories:AnthologiesCase StudiesPress ReleasesArticlesAnnual ReportsAnnual Letters (like Gates)Grantee profilesSo – what are we missing? (GROUP QUESTION)FacebookTwitterYouTube
So, what tools do we use in the new frontier?FacebookTwitterYoutubeExamples online
In recent years, failure has been embraced by the James Irvine Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation (Paul Brest), the Gates Foundation, and most recently the Case Foundation .Each has told compelling stories about lessons learned through failure and working with their grantees. Those lessons are key to helping create further transparency and effectiveness in philanthropic efforts – they are keys to success.
Tracking and communicating grantee success - july 15 2010
Tracking and Communicating Grantee Success<br />Presented by Adin Miller<br />Northern California Grants Managers Network <br />July 15, 2010<br />
Embrace Failure<br />“There’s an increasing recognition among foundation leaders that not to be public about failures is essentially indefensible,” said Phil Buchanan, the executive director of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which advises foundations. <br />– New York Times, “Foundations Find Benefits in Facing Up to Failures” By Stephanie Strom, July 26, 2007<br />
Key Resources<br />To name just a few:<br />The Philanthropy Journal<br />FSG Impact Advisors<br />Center for Effective Philanthropy<br />Chronicle of Philanthropy <br />Philanthropy Journal<br />The Communication Network<br />
Articles on Failure<br />Tactical Philanthropy Blog: The Upside of Philanthropic Failure<br />Center for Effective Philanthropy; post by Bob Hughes: Can Failure Be the Key to Foundation Effectiveness?<br />Case Foundation blog: The painful acknowledgement of coming up short<br />