Are metrics “strategic objects,” which foster new organizational behavior through iterative use, as Dave Karpf writes in his 2016 book Analytic Activism? Or are metrics tools of social control by one group over another, stifling innovation and strategic decision-making, as Jerry Muller writes in his 2018 book The Tyranny of Metrics? Evaluating advocacy has always been an “elusive craft,” and the relative power position of philanthropy vis-à-vis grantees, compounded by systems of structural racism, patriarchy, and capitalist exploitation, make any evaluation framework inherently suspect — particularly among grantees.

Yet, there is a growing evidence-based movement in the social sector, and metrics like cost-per-vote and cost-per-impact are growing in significance. Can metric frameworks in philanthropy serve as strategic objects (to facilitate learning) or only tools of social control? Can they incentivize equitable outcomes and people power? Please join us for a discussion about evaluation frameworks and metrics in philanthropy.

Recording (Members only) Here

Moderated by Ethan Frey, Ford Foundation


Maurice BP-Weeks, Action Center on Race & the Economy

David Karpf, George Washington University

Quanita Toffie, Groundswell Fund

For more information on the Summer Equity + Power Sharing Series, click here.

A very special thank you to our cosponsors: Economic Opportunity Funders, Environmental Grantmakers Association, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Health and Environmental Funders Network, Intentional Endowments Network, Maryland Philanthropy Network, Native Americans in Philanthropy, Neighborhood Funders Group, NEO Philanthropy, Northern California Grantmakers, Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, Philanthropy New York, Philanthropy Northwest, United Philanthropy Forum, and Women Donors Network.