Using a Theory of Change to Guide Grant Monitoring and Grantmaking
Charitable foundations play a significant role in advancing public health, funding billions of dollars in health grants each year. Evaluation is an important accountability tool for foundations and helps ensure that philanthropic investments contribute to the broader public health evidence base. While commitment to evaluation has increased among foundations over the past few decades, effective use of evaluation findings remains challenging. To facilitate use of evaluation findings among philanthropic organizations, evaluators can incorporate the foundation's theory of change-an illustration of the presumed causal pathways between a program's activities and its intended outcomes-into user-friendly products that summarize evaluation findings and recommendations. Using examples from the evaluation of the Kansas Health Foundation's Healthy Living Focus Area, we present amapping technique that can be applied to assess and graphically depict alignment between program theory and program reality, refine the theory of change, and inform grantmaking.