March 1, 2016
Increased accountability from foundations has created a culture in which nonprofits, with limited resources and a range of reporting protocols from multiple funders, struggle to meet data-reporting expectations. Responding to this, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in partnership with the Chicago Tribune launched the Unified Outcomes Project, an 18-month evaluation capacity-building project. The project focused on increasing grantees' capacity to report outcome measures and utilize this evidence for program improvement, while streamlining the number of tools being used to collect data among cohort members. It utilized a model that emphasized communities of practice, evaluation coaching, and collaboration between the foundation and 29 grantees to affect evaluation outcomes across grantee contexts. This article highlights the project's background, activities, and outcomes, and its findings suggest that the majority of participating grantees benefited from their participation – in particular those that received evaluation coaching. This article also discusses obstacles encountered by the grantees and lessons learned.