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Do Foundations Assess Social Impact? An Investigation of the Forces that Motivate Foundations to Evaluate Grants and Measure Organizational Performance

Scherer, Shelley Christine (2011) Do Foundations Assess Social Impact? An Investigation of the Forces that Motivate Foundations to Evaluate Grants and Measure Organizational Performance. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This paper examines the factors that influence the evaluation practices of American philanthropic foundations, using an institutional theory framework. To this end, it explores the literature, contributed by both the academic community and esteemed philanthropic practitioners, that informs understanding of organizational dynamics in general and evaluation practices in particular. From this literature emerged several propositions regarding the factors that influence evaluation practices. As part of this study, these propositions were explored through key informant interviews with representatives from eight foundations headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Through this approach, this paper contributes to the field by integrating the views of academic theorists, philanthropic thought leaders, and current practitioners. Relative to evaluation practices, the most striking findings were the importance of the grantee-funder relationship, the influence of grantees, and the impact of organizational lifecycle. These insights have several implications for policy-makers and point to opportunities for further research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Scherer, Shelley Christinescs44@pitt.eduSCS44
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKearns, Kevinkkearns@pitt.eduKKEARNS
Committee MemberFoster Reynolds, Angelawilliamsfoster@gspia.pitt.eduAMF50
Committee MemberMiller, Daviddymiller@pitt.eduDYMILLER
Committee MemberBuechel,
Date: 28 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 January 2011
Approval Date: 28 June 2011
Submission Date: 3 February 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: MPA - Master of Public Administration
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: evaluation; foundations; philanthropy; social impact
Other ID:, etd-02032011-142507
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:31
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:34


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