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Grantmakers Impact Measurement Guide

Build the Grantmakers impact measurement capacity. Sopact empowers changemakers to measure, manage, and maximize their impact potential.

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Grantmakers play a crucial role in creating positive change through philanthropy. However, to truly make a difference, they need to assess their impact and evaluate their success. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of measuring grantmaker impact and provide valuable insights into the tools and techniques available for effective evaluation.

From understanding the significance of measurement tools and techniques to real-world examples of successful grantmaker impact measurement, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies you need to maximize your philanthropic efforts. Let's dive in and discover how measuring social impact can empower grantmakers to create lasting change.

According to SSIR "Investors buy into investment strategies that ideally are valid over the fund’s lifetime (around 10 years), but it’s difficult to incorporate learnings into such rigid structures, and few impact investors set overarching impact objectives for funds according to a theory of change."

Why Measure Grantmaker Impact?

Grantmakers have a unique opportunity to make a significant impact on the causes and communities they support. However, without proper measurement and evaluation, it can be difficult to determine the effectiveness of their efforts. Here are some key reasons why measuring grantmaker impact is crucial:

Accountability and Transparency

Grantmakers are responsible for using charitable money wisely and showing others how their investments are helping.  Measuring and reporting on grantmaker impact allows for greater transparency and builds trust with stakeholders, including donors, grantees, and the general public.

Continuous Improvement

Measurement and evaluation provide valuable insights into what is working and what can be improved. By regularly assessing grantmaker impact, organizations can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to their strategies and processes.

Demonstrating Value

In today's competitive philanthropic landscape, grantmakers must demonstrate their value and impact in order to attract and retain donors and grantees. Measuring and communicating grantmaker impact can help organizations stand out and showcase their effectiveness.

Measurement Tools

Grantmakers have a variety of tools and measurement techniques at their disposal to measure their impact. Key to improving impact is a systematic approach to identifying the most relevant and actionable impact data for your specific needs.

Understanding the contribution to a portfolio of grantees is crucial for grantmakers. While collecting results for board compliance is common, it's important to consider the utility of these data in enhancing the outcomes for grantees. Collecting data that doesn't serve to improve grantee outcomes may not be worthwhile, as every reporting requirement adds to their burden.

Instead, it's advisable to collaborate with your grantee portfolio in line with their data capacity. Empowering them to be owners of their data and to operate as data-driven teams is a critical step in fostering their long-term success. While there are multiple approaches to this, it's often observed that many nonprofits are hesitant to enhance their impact measurement processes, viewing it as an unwelcome burden.

Sopact is dedicated to simplifying this journey through innovative qualitative and quantitative data analysis. This helps organizations understand stakeholder alignment, agree on outcomes, and continuously improve their programs based on learning and improvement.

As organizations grow and appreciate the benefits of lean data and ongoing improvement, they can employ strategies like logic models, surveys, and interviews to further their impact.

Logic Models

A logic model is a visual representation of the inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes of a program or initiative. It helps organizations identify the resources needed, the activities to be carried out, and the expected outcomes. Logic models are useful for planning and evaluating grantmaker impact, as they provide a clear framework for understanding how a program or initiative is expected to create change.

Surveys and Interviews

Surveys and interviews are valuable tools for collecting data and feedback from grantees, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders. They can provide insights into the effectiveness of grantmaker efforts and help identify areas for improvement. Surveys and interviews can also be used to gather qualitative data, such as personal stories and anecdotes, which can be powerful in demonstrating the impact of philanthropic investments.

Social Return on Investment (SROI)

SROI is a methodology for measuring and communicating the social, environmental, and economic value created by an organization or program. It takes into account both financial and non-financial outcomes and uses a ratio to demonstrate the social return on investment. SROI can be a useful tool for grantmakers looking to communicate the broader impact of their investments beyond just financial returns.

Data Analytics

With the rise of technology and data, grantmakers now have access to a wealth of information that can help them measure their impact. Data analytics tools can be used to track and analyze various metrics, such as website traffic, social media engagement, and program outcomes. By leveraging data, grantmakers can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their efforts and make data-driven decisions for future investments.

Techniques for Evaluating Grantmaker Impact

In addition to using specific tools, there are also some key techniques that grantmakers can use to effectively evaluate their impact. Here are a few examples:

Establish Clear Goals and Objectives

Before measuring impact, it is important for grantmakers to establish clear goals and objectives for their investments. This will provide a framework for evaluation and help determine what data and metrics are most relevant to track.

Use a Mix of Quantitative and Qualitative Data

While quantitative data, such as numbers and statistics, can provide valuable insights, it is also important to gather qualitative data, such as personal stories and anecdotes. This can help paint a more complete picture of the impact of grantmaker efforts and provide a human element to the data.

Engage Stakeholders

Involving stakeholders, such as grantees, beneficiaries, and community members, in the evaluation process can provide valuable perspectives and insights. It also helps build trust and transparency, as stakeholders feel more involved and invested in the outcomes.

Continuously Monitor and Evaluate

Grantmaker impact should be measured and evaluated on an ongoing basis, rather than just at the end of a program or initiative. This allows for adjustments to be made in real-time and ensures that the organization is continuously improving and making the most impact possible.

Real-World Examples of Grantmaker Impact Measurement

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a prime example of a grantmaker that prioritizes impact measurement. The foundation uses a variety of tools and techniques, such as logic models, surveys, and data analytics, to measure the effectiveness of their investments. They also regularly publish reports and updates on their impact, providing transparency and accountability to their stakeholders.

Another example is the Skoll Foundation, which uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to measure the impact of their investments. They also engage with grantees and other stakeholders to gather feedback and insights, and use this information to continuously improve their strategies and processes.

Who Is Responsible for Measuring Grantmaker Impact?

Measuring grantmaker impact is a team effort and should involve various stakeholders within an organization. However, it is important for there to be a designated team or individual responsible for overseeing and coordinating the impact measurement process. This could be a dedicated impact measurement team, or it could be a role within the grantmaking team, such as a program officer or evaluation specialist.


Measuring grantmaker impact is crucial for demonstrating accountability, driving continuous improvement, and showcasing the value of philanthropic investments. By using a mix of tools and techniques and involving stakeholders in the process, grantmakers can effectively evaluate their impact and make a meaningful difference in the world.

Frequently asked questions

How do grantmakers ensure accurate and unbiased impact reporting?
By using standardized metrics, third-party evaluations, and transparent methodologies to ensure objectivity and reliability in reporting.
How do grantmakers measure impact?
How do grantmakers ensure accurate and unbiased impact reporting?