More Equitable Approach to Grantmaking

Elevating Grantee Voice and Perspective to Continuously Learn and Improve.

The Challenge

Aware of the traditional power dynamics between funders and grantees, Caring for Colorado Foundation wanted to take a more equitable approach to evaluate its Statewide Philanthropy Program, and use its position to positively influence the health and well-being for Colorado’s children and families.


The Result

Caring for Colorado partnered with our team to evaluate their Statewide Philanthropy Program. By the end of the process, the Foundation had a better understanding of the successes, challenges, and experiences from the perspective of the grantees. The process also allowed Caring for Colorado to gain a new perspective on how to use data in a systemized, engaging, and intentional manner to continuously elevate community voice.

See the full Executive Summary Report here.



Using Evaluation to Elevate Grantee Voice

Funders and Grantmakers have a role of power in grantmaking. If unchecked, it can cause harm and unintended consequences, but if acknowledged, and used in the right way, it can transform our communities. Caring for Colorado Foundation acknowledges the role of power in grantmaking, and strives to minimize power dynamics and use its unique position to further its partners’ work in advancing equity in Colorado.

We started working together to evaluate their Statewide Philanthropy Program, which works within the focus areas of Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Youth, Strong and Resilient Families, and Public Policy Advocacy. As the third-party evaluation partner, our team led all phases of the project—from the data collection to analysis—to help the Foundation gain a greater understanding of the successes and challenges of the Program.


Before launching any of the efforts to collect feedback and data from grantees, we worked with the Foundation to gain clarity and alignment on its Impact Strategy (also known as Theory of Change), and define the learning questions that would guide the evaluation work to follow. This set the groundwork to build an evaluation plan and make sure that we were collecting the right data that would help answer the Foundation’s learning questions, and provide actionable insights.


Creating More Equitable Approaches to Grantmaking

This process gave grantees an opportunity to express their needs and communicate what was and wasn’t working for their organizations. During the evaluation process, nonprofits shared many different ideas and suggestions for the Foundation to further optimize its Statewide Philanthropy Program. After synthesizing the ideas and needs expressed by the grantees, the Foundation was able to walk away not only with direct feedback from their grantees, but also with recommendations to consider when exploring new grantmaking methods and approaches, which include:

  • Advocate: Continue to give organizations the opportunity to share their perspectives and voice.
  • Convene: Bring organizations together in an intentional manner that will provide the space for organic collaboration and dialogue.
  • Collaborate: Work with other funders to simplify the grantmaking process for nonprofits. Collaborate to create similar processes (as appropriate) that will allow for more accessible applications for nonprofits.
  • Optimize: Continue efforts to simplify the grantmaking process. Allow organizations to demonstrate their impact in a way that is meaningful to them.


To learn more about the evaluation process, the key findings, and recommendations