Evaluation Summary 2008
Evaluation of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
The Foundation hired Copeland Carson & Associates to conduct an evaluation of its grantmaking process and results for the period 2003 to 2007. The consultants interviewed 70 individuals including Noyes board, staff and grantees (current and former), and leaders in the philanthropic field. In addition, hundreds of documents were reviewed.
The consultants found that the Foundation:
- “Leveraged its relatively small grantmaking pool with technical assistance and advocacy to strengthen social justice organizations and coalitions;”
- “Provided patient capital for constituency-based organizations through consistent core operating and coalition building support, often as the first funder;”
- Engaged in “vocal advocacy for diversity in foundation and nonprofit grantee governance [that] has expanded inclusivity in the social justice movement;”
- Helped “grantees, and the philanthropic field more generally, better understand how local issues are connected to broader global dynamics;” and
- “Pioneered the development of the mission-based investing and environmental justice fields in philanthropy.”
The “Noyes staff is creative and competent. They have provided critical technical assistance to community leaders, which has advanced the entire consistency-based grantmaking sector.”
Additionally, “over its more than 60-year history, the Foundation’s board has consistently created values and priorities that address the country’s most challenging social problems.”
- Document and share best practices – the Noyes Way - to benefit the broader field.
- Create measures to track outcomes in key priority areas and integrate them into the grant review process.
- Institute a more systematic grantee applicant evaluation protocol that is tied to the Noyes mission and core principles, including the applicant’s capacity and performance, record of diversity and inclusivity, and movement building experience.
- Incorporate an environmental sustainability criterion when evaluating grantee applicants.
- Consider creative ways to expand non-grantmaking support through foundation funding partnerships, strategic advocacy, extended technical assistance and expanded coalition building support.
- Update strategic plan to accommodate changing political and economic environments.
The Foundation’s board and staff are using the evaluation report as a working document, discussing ways in which to make improvements with our grantmaking, philanthropic advocacy and internal operations. We anticipate beginning a strategic planning process in mid-2010.