Final Impact Assessment

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During its time-limited lifespan, the Beldon Fund sought to maximize its impact with focused investments in environmental advocacy and health. The Fund pursued three unique but interrelated strategies to advance positive change on the issues it cared about: 1) Build capacity and clout, 2) Support civic engagement, 3) Broaden the base of support. A fourth strategy, Giving more than grants, supplemented the three main strategies.

To pursue these strategies, the Beldon Fund developed two program areas through which it made long-term grants: 1) the Key States Program, which invested in building long-term sustainable infrastructure, capacity, and tools in a limited number of ‘key’ states, and 2) the Human Health and the Environment Program, which invested in building the field of environmental health at the state and national levels. The Fund supplemented these two grantmaking program areas with a discretionary fund so that it could support cross-program advocacy tools and activities and be opportunistic when appropriate. Learn more about Beldon’s programs and grantmaking strategies here.

As the Beldon Fund was making its last grants in 2008, it commissioned a final independent evaluation (conducted by Keiki Kehoe and Dan Cramer, also the authors of this report), which was presented to its staff and board. That evaluation provided an in-depth analysis of Beldon’s overall impact. It also included a compilation of lessons and takeaways for other funders considering a spend-out strategy. Read the full Final Evaluation Report here.

Key to Beldon’s theory of change was the idea of building capacity that would continue beyond its lifespan. The conclusion of the Final Evaluation Report noted the difficulty of accurately assessing the ‘sustainability’ of Beldon’s impact and the capacity it has built without the benefit of the passage of time. Given the importance of sustainability to the Beldon Fund, the board and staff made a commitment to take another look at the impact of the foundation five years after it closed. This report provides that final impact assessment.

The fundamental question at the heart of this assessment is: What do we know now that we could not have known five years ago about the impact and legacy of the Beldon Fund? This assessment is meant to complement the more comprehensive Final Evaluation Report written in 2008, with a particular focus on the question of sustained impact. The specific learning objectives for this final impact assessment include:

  • Providing the Beldon Fund board and staff with a final analysis of the impact of its work
  • Providing other philanthropic entities with a final set of lessons and observations about effective grantmaking and spend-out strategies

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Content Partner: Beldon Fund

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Publication/Event Date:

August 2014

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