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How do foundations gauge grant impact?

If you work for a nonprofit, perhaps you’ve wondered what happens to a status or final report you’ve written and submitted to a foundation, reporting on a grant. Well, wonder no more.          

The Minnesota Council on Foundations hosted a conversation with five program officers from its member foundations about evaluating grants and grantees. The complete conversation will run in the spring issue of Giving Forum – the Minnesota Council on Foundations’ publication covering philanthropy news by and for grantmakers, givers and nonprofits.

Participating program officers were:

  • Joanna Ramirez Barrett, program operations and evaluation director, Northwest Area Foundation
  • Monica Bryand, senior program officer, Headwaters Foundation for Justice
  • Nate Dorr, program officer – grants, Northwest Minnesota Foundation 
  • Susan Voigt, program manager, Medica Foundation
  • Laura Zimmermann, arts program officer and director of artist fellowships, The McKnight Foundation

Program officers answered questions about what types of follow-up reports they request from grantees and how they use and share the data contained within. They were candid about changes they’ve made to processes at their foundations based on grantee feedback, and they told us how they measure their own success as grantmakers. Find out if they believe their success is dependent on the accomplishments of their grantees.

Sneak Peek Video Online Now

Here’s a glimpse into the Giving Forum feature where three program officers (Barrett, Voigt and Zimmermann) give advice on providing measurement data to funders, explain why they believe it is important to do so and recommend resources nonprofit staff can use to learn more about successful evaluation strategies.

To read the complete conversation, look for Giving Forum, in your mailboxes and online by mid-April. If you don’t already receive the free quarterly 16-page print publication, subscribe by creating an account on, so you don’t miss the spring issue “Progress Through Evaluation” and future 2013 issues focused on “Corporate Philanthropy” and on “Giving – and Working – Across Generations.”

This article was originally published at

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