Maximizing the Value of Philanthropic Efforts through Planned Partnerships between the U.S. Government and Private Foundations. 3. Evaluation and Impacts

05/01/2009

After the first year and a half, not many nonprofits have posted problems at InnoCentive. Rockefeller attributes this outcome, in part, to initial difficulties in adapting the model to serve a different, novice client base. Other AID projects are in the early part of their grant lifecycle and have not been formally evaluated. However, Rockefeller has been evaluating interim progress and has observed positive momentum in nonprofit usage of the innovation models and changes in behavior by the providers of the models. The Foundation believes that changes in supply (providers), as well as sufficient demand, are necessary to build sustainable markets that will function once AID has ceased funding in an area.

Ultimately, formal evaluations will examine outcomes among three groups of organizations AID aims to affect:

  1. Users of innovation approaches: This includes NGOs, private sector companies, and government agencies working on development problems. For these organizations, the Foundation hopes to increase usage of open and user-driven innovation. The metrics that will be used to examine change include measures of usage, learning, discussion and sharing, and qualitative assessments, both by users and organizations that considered but ultimately did not use the innovation models.
  2. Providers of innovation approaches: Rockefeller wants providers to broaden their definition of users to include social sector actors and to develop a sustainable model of targeting nonprofits. For example, one of the goals of the InnoCentive partnership was to develop a program that would enable InnoCentive to partner with nonprofits at a lower cost. The metrics that will be used include whether providers business models change to include the social sector and whether the social sector is considered when providers develop future projects.
  3. Funders: Foundations can create constraints and opportunities, and Rockefeller wants to examine whether they and other funders encourage their grantees to use these kinds of models and whether the funders use the models in the work they do. The metrics that will be used to measure change include Foundation usage and support of grantees in using models.

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