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May 11, 2023

Case Study: Redefining How Philanthropies Evaluate

Headwaters Foundation is committed to shifting the power dynamics that traditionally exist between foundations, grantees and the communities they serve. By practicing Trust-Based Philanthropy, we aim to ensure that people with lived experience, not the Foundation, define the problem, dictate solutions and determine what success looks like in their communities.

Our team is always charting new territory as they work to make Trust-Based Philanthropy a reality at Headwaters Foundation and in the philanthropic sector. That’s why we were chosen by Hyla Jacobson, a Student of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy for a case study about the way that philanthropic institutions evaluate their grantees and impact.

The case study, Redefining How Philanthropies Evaluate, may be useful to other foundations seeking to take a trust-based approach to philanthropy by providing an example of how to challenge existing power dynamics, specifically within the evaluation process.

The study tells story of how a foundation was built (from the ground up) with power sharing in mind, and how our staff and Board worked to design and implement an evaluation process that ‘gives grantees and the community a central role in determining what success looks like and how Headwaters Foundation can help them along the way.’