Literature Review: Developing a Conceptual Framework to Assess the Sustainability of Community Coalitions Post-Federal Funding. C. The Role of Evaluation in Supporting Sustainability in Community Coalitions


Evaluations of community coalitions can be used to provide accountability to the community, demonstrate the importance of the coalition to the funder, improve the coalition’s activities, identify the coalition’s challenges, raise community awareness, and inform policy decisions (Butterfoss & Francisco, 2004). Evaluation also plays an important role in supporting the sustainability of community coalitions (Butterfoss & Francisco, 2004). Weiss, Coffman, and Bohan-Baker (2002) developed a paper about the role of evaluation in initiative sustainability based on the Harvard Family Research Project’s experience conducting foundation initiatives. The researchers suggest four ways to operationalize initiative sustainability in order to track its progress over time (Exhibit 4.7). Although the sustainability of community coalitions is not the explicit focus, the model provides the types of data that evaluators might look for when assessing sustainability.

Exhibit 4.7:     Operationalizing Sustainability as an Outcome
Sustainability Focus Evaluation Focus

1)      Organizations and/or Projects – securing additional funding for grantees or projects begun or supported under the initiative

  • Presence of grantee effort to obtain additional funding
  • Grantee success in obtaining additional funding
  • Presence of grantee revenue-generating strategies to support initiative-related work
  • Presence of multiple factors to support initiative-related work

2)      Ideas – maintaining the initiative’s core principles, values, beliefs, and commitment

  • Core ideas operationalized in grantee policies, structures
  • Initiative principles applied to other grantee projects
  • Commitment to continuing work started or supported under the initiative (e.g., generation of new ideas, migration of initiative ideas, new research projects, etc.)

3)      Relationships – maintaining connections among people and institutions

  • Collaboration involving higher-order ways of working together (e.g., joint projects or products)
  • Collaboration present over time (not just a one-shot effort)
  • Collaboration that is not initiative-driven

4)      Outcomes – maintaining initiative results

  • Codification of outcomes (e.g., in policy, procedures, legislation)
  • Support/demand (public, policymakers, etc.) for outcomes
  • Continued involvement/commitment of people over time
Source: Weiss, Coffman, Bohan-Baker, 2002.

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