CASES & POINTS: A Summary of the Funder Exchange on Evaluating Arts & Social Impact
A May 22 Funder Exchange on Evaluating Arts & Social Impact, presented by Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy program and hosted by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, brought together funders, evaluation professionals, and arts practitioners to learn about concrete approaches and measures funders are using to understand the impact of arts and social change investments.
As the day progressed, it became clear that, at least within this group, evaluation is no longer viewed as a necessary evil, or worse, an empty exercise. Funders and practitioners alike shared examples of shifts in thinking about evaluation toward:
- Frameworks that identify shared goals and clarify how grantees’ work aligns with larger values and social movements
- Cross-sector indicators and tools that help stakeholders understand what difference is occurring as a result of their work
- Iterative learning that moves future efforts toward more effective practices and greater potential for impact
There was a general consensus that if funders were more deliberate in communicating with each other about common interests, intentions, and results, their collective impact could be better understood and perhaps expanded. The need to embrace experimentation and even failure was also broadly supported.
Related resources mentioned in the report include:
J.W. McConnell Foundation
- PowerPoint – Developmental Evaluation: An Overview
- Youthscape Guidebook
- DE 201: A Practitioner’s Guide to Developmental Evaluation and A Developmental Evaluation Primer
- Evaluating Social Innovation
Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's Porch Light Initative
The Fledgling Fund