Many traditional grant application forms require nonprofits to include evaluation plans as part of their submission. We know that this part of the application is often one of the most challenging sections for applicants to complete. We also know that funders often find the information provided in this section to be less useful than they had hoped. One of the reasons why this section doesn’t always work well is that it tends to focus on the technical details of a measurement plan without first exploring the why of that plan, i.e., what the grantee hopes to learn and why those insights are important. This workbook includes worksheets designed to draw out and clarify the learning goals associated with a proposed project before turning to the measurement plan. We hope it will lead to conversations between the funder and grant recipient about what really matters.
The Workbook begins with a worksheet that is intended for funders to complete that reaffirms why they have committed to the grant recipient and allows the grant recipient space to discuss what they value in evaluation. After that there are five worksheets that are intended for grant recipients to complete. These one-page worksheets focus on:
- What have we already learned? (Worksheet 1)
- What do we hope to learn? (Worksheet 2)
- What difference do we hope to make for our service users or program/project participants? (Worksheet 3)
- Given the information we need, what data gathering strategies make the most sense? (Worksheet 4)
- What processes or habits should be in place to facilitate learning? (Worksheet 5)
We designed this workbook as a way to take evaluation planning out of the equation during the grant application process so that it can be given fuller consideration in the less stressful period after granting decisions have been made. However, we encourage you to use these worksheets, together or individually, in whatever way works best for you — whether you are a funder seeking out grant applications or a nonprofit working on a project plan.
Available for download below is the complete workbook, but we have also created individual PDFs for the five worksheets.