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Impact… We hear the word a lot, but what exactly does it mean for AAWGT and how can it be measured? How do we know if the 110 grants totaling over $1,570,000 we’ve awarded over the last 15 years have really made a difference and, if so, in what ways? What impact has resulted from planning and hosting 46 top-quality education programs since we began in 2006? What effect has the giving circle had on its own 200+ members? These were the key questions that our Tenth Anniversary Committee decided to try to answer as it took a wide-ranging look back at AAWGT’s first ten years.

Truth be told, this exercise turned out to a lot harder than we thought it would be:

  • We looked at all the data we’ve collected on grantees and the purposes and results of the grants we’ve awarded;  
  • We held very informative conversations with six multi-year grantees to drill down on what they considered the key impact(s) of our grant making; and
  • We surveyed AAWGT members about their experiences with the giving circle and asked about the effect their membership has had on their community engagement.  

If we’ve piqued your interest, here are the results of our research as a Power Point Presentation (as shown at our 2016 Grants Showcase, in PDF) and the accompanying Talking Points (in PDF).

We also dipped into the philanthropy literature and reached out to other giving circles to ask how they approach measuring impact. We learned that from the largest organizations and foundations to the smallest, measuring impact is challenging, messy and expensive. We also learned that it’s important to try to do it anyway and to commit ourselves to taking incremental steps along the path to learning everything we can about the results of our efforts.

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AAWGT is a component fund of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County
AAWGT is a member of Philanos: Accelerating Philanthropy through Women’s Collective Giving

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