Assessing the Impact of Unrestricted Operating Support

Unrestricted operating support grants are a nonprofit's dream. These flexible dollars can be applied at the nonprofit's discretion to everything from program costs to staff salaries to office expenses-all in support of its mission. But, with uses so varied, how can a funder know the impact? And, with the limitations on asking about programmatic outcomes from your support, what are the right questions to even ask?

To evaluate unrestricted operating support, grantmakers should have a clear strategy behind what they expect it to accomplish. The guiding questions become: How is the organization delivering on its mission? How does the organization set goals to track its progress? And to what extent is unrestricted operating support contributing to its success?

At the end of this webinar, you will have more insight into how unrestricted operating support can serve as one tool toward increasing the organizational effectiveness of your grantees. Join the presenters to learn about how funders can begin to assess unrestricted operating support grants so they can monitor progress resulting from this type of giving. The speakers will share how the Weingart Foundation has been playing a leadership role in developing a framework for evaluating unrestricted operating support and what lessons they have learned along the way.

​Belen Vargas

Vice President-Programs

Weingart Foundation

​​Joyce Ybarra

Program Officer

Weingart Foundation

​Paul Harder


Harder+Company Community Research

Emily Wexler

Program Manager

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)

Emily Wexler is a senior manager on GEO’s program team. In her current position Emily develops and delivers content for GEO peer learning, speaking engagements, publications and other programming. Prior to joining GEO Emily received her master of public policy from Duke University’s Terry Sanford School of Public Policy. Before she received her MPP, Emily worked as a community organizer and policy analyst in Vermont. In this role, she worked on issues ranging from childhood hunger to access to affordable health care. In particular, in her work with the People Improving Communities Through Organizing Network (PICO) Emily collaborated with community leaders to conduct a public action to galvanize the state’s policymakers to protect critical components of the state’s social welfare program safety net.

Emily is an alumna of Princeton University’s Emerging Leaders Program and served as a Compass Pro Bono Project Leader in 2016 and 2017.

Grants Management Professional Competency Model

Lifecycle of a Grant Competencies

  • Award and Monitoring: Establish mutual expectations between the grantmaker and grantee to support success.
  • Post-Grant: Review grantmaking to determine success in meeting goals and objectives.