Transforming Knowledge into Change

2008 Civic Engagement Evaluation Assessment and Recommendations for the Field

2008 was a historic year for civic participation in the United States. The Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP) brings together grantmakers committed to enhancing democratic participation in all aspects of civic life. Its nearly 80 members comprised of private, public and community foundations collectively contributed scores of millions of dollars to non-partisan civic engagement efforts of all kinds nationwide. In addition, FCCP created an evaluation project to assist funders and groups on the ground in measuring and evaluating the impact of civic engagement work.

Tides Foundation, through its Voter Action Fund (VAF), is an active, longtime member of FCCP. In 2008, Tides Foundation made an unprecedented $20 million in grants to progressive civic participation projects and activities.

VAF, a donor collaborative created in 2003 to support long and short-term civic participation and inclusive democracy work, accounted for $4.2 million of those grants, becoming the biggest single source of civic engagement grantmaking at Tides. Last year, VAF supported 80 organizations from across the nation, working at every level of engagement, from local neighborhoods to nationwide efforts.

In early 2007, FCCP members realized how important it would be to capture the lessons from the field during the critical 2008 national election year. They began to develop an evaluation template that would be useful to both grantees and funders. At the outset of the development process, an evaluation committee, consisting of 12 funders led by a consultant, conducted nearly 70 phone and in-person interviews with field practitioners, academics and funders. These information gathering conversations resulted in a deeper understanding of the necessary elements and goals of a useful common evaluation template.

As a member of the evaluation development committee, Tides worked with FCCP partners to shape the final version of the template, which focused on four key themes in voter engagement:


  • Activities and outcomes
  • Impact
  • Data gathering, and
  • Fundraising and financial analyses.


The goal was to encourage funders to use a standard reporting process with their civic engagement grantees, and to test the effectiveness and ease with which grantees could complete a standard set of metrics. And the hope was that a common template would enhance the ability for both grantees and funders to develop a fuller analysis of their work by more easily comparing results across organizations. Additionally, the template was intended to lessen the burden on grantees by allowing them to fill out one evaluation that would be accepted by multiple funders.


Bibliographic Details
Author Lacy M. Serros
Publisher Tides Foundation in collaboration with Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation
Publication Date December 1, 2009
Publication City San Francisco, CA
Publication Work
Resource Type
Resource Focus
Submitted to Point K May 3, 2013 - 9:18am

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