Why Evaluate?

Grants and Grantsmanship

Before we begin, let's briefly discuss grants and grantsmanship. For most project managers, the resources needed to operate your programs come from some form of a procurement process. This process might be an internal one where the organization has a budget for the year and you (along with other project managers) must contend for resources to conduct your activities out of that budget. However, this process might be an external one, where the resources to operate your project come from some source external to your organization and are obtained through a competitive process that does not guarantee that the resources will be forthcoming. In reality, most project managers operate in an environment that has aspects of both kinds of processes—that is, there are resources provided by the organization, but to fully perform all aspects of a project's mission or plan you must procure additional resources from outside the organization.

The two forms of external resources are public funds and private funds. Public funds come from the federal, state, or local government. The funds are made available for specific purposes, established and defined through an act of the legislature. These funds exist in the form of block or formula grants that are distributed to states in the union on a formula basis. These block grants may be competitive or earmarked and normally are managed through specific departments of state government. The federal funds also exist in the form of project or categorical grants that are distributed on a competitive basis and are managed through specific departments of the federal government. Finally, there are contracts that can be procured through all federal and state offices to perform work that an office needs done by an external vendor. If the work of your project coincides with the work needed by a particular office, then you might bid on performing that work. These contracts are usually issued for specific purposes and to be performed during a specified time period. A source for learning about the block and categorical grants available is the Catalog for Federal and Domestic Assistance (https://cfda.gov/). A source for learning about the contracts is the Commerce Business Daily (cbd-net.com/index.php/ doc/internet).

Private funds come from foundations or corporations. Foundations exist as nonprofit or not-for-profit organizations. They are established through the formation of an endowment that is invested and dividends from that endowment are then distributed in the form of grants to various agencies. Foundations can exist as a community foundation, national general purpose foundation, special purpose foundation, family foundation, or corporate foundation. Foundations exist to simply award grants to organizations that match their grant-giving objectives. Some of these foundations focus on specific areas such as education, health care, or research, whereas others have a more eclectic general focus. A project manager's search of foundations is for one that best matches their project's mission and objectives. Some foundations limit funding to specific geographical areas where the foundation has a presence or a stake in the community it is serving. Others have no limits to where a project might be located—on a national or a local level. Each foundation sets its own specific guidelines and determines the type of application that it accepts. There are approximately 65,000-100,000 foundations and corporations in the United States.

Corporations will most often distribute resources through their corporate foundation, if one exists. If not, then a project manager might access resources directly through a corporation. Usually the resources provided from a corporate foundation are funds that can be used to extend the corporation's mission or the marketability of its products. Thus, the Sears Foundation might be interested in funding consumer education activities. More often than not, a corporation will provide non-monetary resources such as products that it manufactures or services that it or its employees might provide to a project.

Obviously, this is a lot of work for a project manager whichever route is taken—internal or external resources. However, it is part of the reality of what is expected of the project manager. How this all relates to project evaluation is that most sources of external funds, both public and private, require an evaluation component. This evaluation reports to the funding source whether and to what extent the project has done what it said it would do for the resources provided. Usually, internal funds must also be subjected to an evaluation but often this is a monitoring requirement, rather than a formative or summative evaluation requirement. However, internal evaluations are becoming more commonplace.

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