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Strengthening Organizational Capacity and Practices for High- Performing Nonprofit Organizations: Evidence from the National Assessment of the Social Innovation Fund—A Public-Private Partnership

Author: XIAODONG ZHANG, JANET GRIFFITH, JANET PERSHING, JING SUN, LARA MALAKOFF, WHITNEY MARSLAND, KURT PETERS and ELLY FIELD
Published in PAQ, Vol. 41 No. 3

The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a federal initiative that leverages funds through public-private collaborations to support and build the evidence base for community programs. The SIF awards grants to grantmaking nonprofit organizations that, in turn, select, fund, and support local nonprofit organizations to implement community-based programs in one of three core areas: youth development, economic opportunity, and healthy futures. The federal funds are matched both by grantees and by subgrantees, leveraging $3 of funding for each $1 of federal funds. The fundamental purpose of the SIF is to strengthen the capacity and practices of nonprofit organizations to select and support grantees that operate evidence-based programs, implement rigorous evaluations, scale up, and collaborate with other organizations.
Employing a quasi-experimental design, the national assessment found improved organizational capacity among SIF grantees. Between 2009 and 2014, SIF grantees funded in the 2010- 2012 grant cycles reported improvement in 13 out of 14 measures of organizational capacity. Compared to applicants for SIF who were not selected and to a national sample of grantmaking nonprofits, and measured by effect size estimates (Cohen, 1988), SIF had a large impact on the evaluation capacity of SIF grantees, a medium impact on their support for subgrantees and for scaling, and a small impact on subgrantee selection and collaboration.

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