Case Studies

Community Foundation Demonstrates Impact and Forges Path to the Future


Before Dr. Michelle Foster became CEO of The Greater Kanawha Valley Community Foundation (Foundation), the Foundation had been serving the greater Charleston, West Virginia area for more than 50 years. It had already accomplished much in the areas of arts and culture, health and human services, economic development, education, and recreation. However, the Foundation lacked the ability to demonstrate its own impact or the impact of the programs it funded.

Shortly after taking over the leadership of the Foundation, and after having tried working with another evaluation firm, Dr. Foster called Midwest Evaluation and Dr. Matthew Shepherd. Midwest Evaluation helped the Foundation develop an impact measurement framework that allowed the Foundation and its donors to better understand the social return on their community investments.

As part of its ongoing work with the Foundation, Midwest Evaluation:

  • conducted a detailed review of all available grantee proposals and reports and prepared a report titled “Looking Back and Moving Forward: A strategic review of 2013–2014 grant documents;”
  • created a logic model covering all of the Foundation’s key discretionary activities that encompassed the “Forms of Wealth” framework being used by the Foundation;
  • created a grantee-level framework for reporting outputs and outcomes in a way that could be aggregated to show Foundation-level impacts;
  • created and delivered trainings to grantees and community members on program evaluation and the Foundation’s new evaluation framework;
  • conducted a detailed synthesis of newly-collected and existing data from local, state, and national sources to document the Foundation’s impact and prepared a report titled “Understanding Our Impact: A synthesis of data associated with the impact of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation;”
  • created and updated a Dashboard report tracking key community-level indicators of health and well-being followed by the Foundation as a measurement of impact;
  • conducted a detailed evaluation of the Foundation’s scholarship program and its impact on participants over the last 15 years, presented in the report “The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Scholarship Program Impact Evaluation, 2002–2017;” and
  • created a GIFTS software-based structure and process for the submission of grants, the management of grant awards, and the collection of grantee data.