Grant Evaluations

We believe the evaluation of past grants is essential to philanthropy education in order to assess the impact of your grants and learn valuable lessons about the giving process. Conducting an evaluation helps both funders and grantees identify best practices to inform future grants and programs. Therefore, we ask Philanthropy Lab alumni to evaluate and report on their classes’ grants 2 years after the conclusion of the course.

Through the evaluation of past grants, we hope students further challenge their assumptions about giving, thoughtfully reflect on their grant-making decisions and initial goals for providing the grants, and contribute to future students’ learning. Students invest a great deal of time and effort deciding how to allocate their grant funding, and often their hopes for the grant are realized or even exceeded (a good decision, good outcome). In some cases, however, the grants do not have the intended impact, sometimes due to unexpected or unknowable circumstances (a good decision, bad outcome) and other times due to mistakes made in the initial decision making process (a mistake). In all scenarios, evaluating the impact of the grants can lead to additional learning and insights. Paradoxically, it is often the grants with worse than expected outcomes that lead to the greatest insights and learning.

As an indication of our belief in the learning that can result from a thoughtful post-grant impact evaluation and a sign of our appreciation for students’ effort and time, The Philanthropy Lab will award up to $25,000 of additional funding for students to allocate to nonprofit organizations or to award to future philanthropy classes at their university if they complete this two year evaluation process. The Philanthropy Lab will also offer up to a $350 donation, on behalf of each student that participates in the evaluation, to the 501(c)3 of their choice.

The Philanthropy Lab
Grant Making Process

1. Philanthropy Lab Course

  • study approaches to philanthropy
  • practice informed grant-making
  • develop framework for evaluating grants and nonprofits

2. One year follow-up

  • gather information from grant recipients
  • reconnect with classmates to share and discuss each grant’s progress
  • fill out one-year update form and submit to The Philanthropy Lab

3. Two year follow-up

  • gather information from grant recipients
  • analyze and reflect on the results
  • fill out two-year update form and submit to The Philanthropy Lab
  • present to the current class

How can I get involved?

All Philanthropy Lab alumni can participate in the evaluation of past grants!

Evaluation Participants

Any student who participates in the evaluation process and discusses the results of each grant with their former classmates is considered an Eval Participant. Eval Participants are strongly encouraged to return to the class 2 years later to share their reflections and insight with current students.

Evaluation Leaders

We also encourage 2 to 3 students per class to act as “Eval Leaders.” Eval Leaders take the lead in organizing the evaluation of past grants and facilitating discussion with their former classmates. Eval Leaders follow-up with nonprofits, conduct site visits, prepare grant progress reports, and report back to the current Philanthropy Lab class to share their reflections.

Once identified, Philanthropy Lab staff will schedule calls with Eval Leaders to further explain the process and answer any questions. Throughout the process, Eval Leaders receive consistent support from The Philanthropy Lab team as well as either course credit or a $500 stipend for their efforts.

If you are interested:

If you are interested in becoming an Eval Leader for your class, contact your professor or email us at!

For more details on the specific requirements and funding available for participating in the evaluation, please refer to your university’s official Philanthropy Lab Grant Agreement and Evaluation Letter.

Grant Evaluations

Search below to learn from evaluations conducted by Philanthropy Lab students since the inception of the program.