Key Points

· Decisions to change processes in one area have the potential to cause ripples throughout the entire grantmaking process, impacting both donor and grantee. Recognizing this, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) thoroughly examines and/or tests any changes before they are integrated into the grantmaking practice. In 2009, NED launched a pioneering grantee self-evaluation process that significantly altered its grantmaking processes.

· This article describes how NED tasked a team of staff from the different sections of its grantmaking program to determine the most effective way to capture the information needed to determine whether a grant should be recommended for renewal.

· What resulted was a shift from requiring grantees to self-evaluate projects at the conclusion of each project to tasking them with evaluating the cumulative impact of NED grants on their longer-term objectives. The systems change has resulted not only in a substantive improvement in process for NED but also in incentivizing longer term strategic thinking in grantee organizations.