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Since its beginning, the Free For All Community Service has sought to make a sustained impact on some of the most difficult problems that face youth and seniors. Given the complexity of these problems—and the fact that our financial resources are modest in comparison to societal needs—we strive to be strategic and focused in our efforts.

We ask ourselves

Implementation: What activities and projects are being completed? Which are most meaningful for assessing our progress?

Effectiveness: Are these projects and activities achieving the goals articulated in the grant? Are we leveraging our partners as effectively as we can?
Social change: Is the work a sponsor is funding contributing to positive change as defined by the overall strategy?

The Capacity to learn

We are committed to working with donors and sponsors to build or strengthen our assessment capacity where it is needed. We work actively with our own program staff and with partners to gain the knowledge to build flexible assessment and reporting tools that can capture social change.

There are many opportunities for us to learn in addition to these ongoing focused assessments. From establishing cross-initiative learning groups within the foundation to engaging with leaders in the field, other funders and researchers, we can exchange knowledge, discuss progress, and adjust our strategic initiatives, working approaches and individual grants accordingly.

How we share what we learn

We believe that sharing what we learn is critical, and it is part of our commitment to transparency in all aspects of grant making. The philanthropic sector struggles with evaluating itself, grading itself, understanding whether its work is making a difference. We are always searching for more effective ways to communicate what we are learning, and moving forward, we will continue to solicit and try new ideas and technologies that help facilitate sharing and dissemination. Indeed, our goal is to be an active participant in an ongoing and lively dialogue with leaders—those in the nonprofit sector, government and business as well as funders—who are working in our key issue areas. Such a dialogue helps to sharpen our strategic approach to remove barriers.