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Goal 4: Guidance for Funders

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Goal 4 Overview

Support state government and philanthropic funders in creating opportunities for grantees to learn from their own data to enhance sustainability while meeting the needs of those they serve.

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Goal 4 Activities

State government and philanthropic funders tend to base grantee reporting requirements predominantly on the need for accountability. This approach misses the opportunity to leverage data for learning. Using data for continuous improvement is particularly important when funders desire that grantees continue grant-funded activities beyond the end of the funding period.

Given the substantial contextual differences between state- and philanthropic-funded grant programs, the goals and support needed for each group is different.

State-funded grant programs: These are typically defined in statute and administered by a designated state agency. The Colorado Lab is examining the data use requirements of state-funded grant programs across a variety of departments and has identified legislation as the key leverage point for change. We are developing guidance for legislators about how to structure grant programs to encourage grantee use of data for learning while right-sizing reporting for accountability.

Philanthropic funders: Philanthropy has significantly more discretion about what they require of grantees. There is an appetite among some to reduce burden on grantees while increasing grantee capacity. In collaboration with Philanthropy Colorado, the Colorado Lab is adopting a community of practice (COP) approach to enhancing funder capacity to support grantees’ use of data for learning.

Goal 4 Actionability

Funders wield substantial power to increase grantee use of data for continuous improvement by modifying their reporting requirements and who they reward with continued funding. If state- and philanthropic-funded grant programs expect grantees to use data for learning, this will provide the impetus for moving evidence-based decision making within grantee organizations from a “nice to have” to “business as usual.”

Get Involved

For more information about working with the Colorado Lab, see Government and Community Partnerships or Research Partnerships.