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.