Community 'Solutions' Assessment for Strategic Giving
How do you identify a community's most outstanding needs? How do you know what can effectively address those needs? How can you best leverage your charitable giving to support effective solutions? These questions are profoundly difficult to answer... but we think we can. And we do it all the time.
Excellence in Giving, LLC has developed a community assessment process that begins with a client's topic of interest and ends with strategic giving recommendations. The process is captured in the following graphic:
How does this topically-focused community assessment process promote strategic giving? Here is the short answer:
- The Topic of Interest makes the community assessment process feasible.
- The Needs Assessment identifies the most outstanding needs by removing small-scale needs and adequately-addressed needs.
- The Solutions Assessment identifies promising or proven progress where private funding can ‘move the needle‘ on an issue since gov't funding is not the main fuel for solutions.
- The Grant Recommendations provide a donor with options for making a measurable difference in areas of the community’s greatest needs.
The community assessment process combines quantitative and qualitative research. EIG field researchers meet with over 50 of the most experienced community members who are informed about the topic. The interviews include mayors and judges, state representatives and police officers, for-profit and non-profit community leaders, and more. These guided conversations combine with a litany of community statistics, demographics, investigative reports, and other analyses to produce a final community assessment report with extensive evidence.
The sponsors of each community assessment end up with confidence in their giving. Whichever recommended option they choose, they know it is strategic. What do we mean by “strategic?” The recommended grants are strategic because each opportunity is explicitly tested against 3 criteria:
- Outstanding Needs Addressed
- Program Success Indicators
- Community Value
Although additional due diligence is required to determine organizational health and impact, multiple positive marks in each criterion makes a grantee strategic. The evidence from the research is there to prove it.
The increased confidence and impact that results from a topical community assessment cannot be underestimated. Too much giving has historically been based on hopeful intentions or an effective fundraising campaign rather than research-backed strategic decisions. That can all be changed in a matter of months.