From Building Communities to Building Movements - The NSG 2018 Evaluation

by Geneva Lloyd

As I read through countless stories of neighbours gathering, laughing and working together, it is clear that NSG is much more than just an opportunity to throw a party, but rather a process that reveals the capacity of individuals and communities to make a difference.  The impacts of these small grants reach far beyond any single event and, collectively, contribute to a greater movement that influences and improves the places we live.  
For the past five months I worked with the Vancouver Foundation preparing the 2018 evaluation report and explored theories and practices to help NSG fulfill its vision as a grassroots grantmaking movement.    At the core of this movement is the people that make up NSG (project leaders, committee members, and program coordinators), and by investing in them, Vancouver Foundation can create an environment that promotes social sustainability. 
Beyond the skills, knowledge and sense of community that are cultivated through NSG, the most compelling learning has been at a personal level where neighbours shift the way they understand themselves and their neighbours.  NSG brings people together whose lives are historically divided and can increase our understanding of different perspectives and lived experiences.  It has been an absolute pleasure and inspiration seeing neighbourhoods transform into support networks and individuals grow into local leaders. 
As for my own personal learning, I gained insight into the incredible work being done on the ground and a glimpse into the institutional operations that financially support this work.  I admire the flexibility and trust that Vancouver Foundation affords NSG, an approach that is too often lacking in the granting world.  
Locals really do know best and by investing in the development of local leaders, Vancouver Foundation will continue to support communities thrive today and tomorrow.  Below are a few key recommendations for NSG members moving forward:
Program Coordinators:

  • Connect with local networks and organizations to broaden outreach and attract project leaders and committee members.
  • Support project leaders through the application and implementation with tools and resources such as an inventory of local resource-sharing platforms.
  • Incorporate self-reflection into your own practice and encourage project leaders and committee members to do the same.  Committee Members:
  • Connect with local networks and organizations to broaden outreach and attract project leaders and fellow committee members.
  • Set aside time to reflect on your experience and your fellow committee members’ and think about whether the NGC reflects the neighbourhood it serves.  Are there people missing from the NGC and if so, what might be some reasons they don’t participate?  

Project Leaders:

  • Connect with local networks and organizations to attract volunteers and participants, and use a variety of outreach methods (social media, word of mouth, posters, etc.).
  • Tap into local resources by seeking donations from local businesses and exploring existing resource-sharing opportunities. 
  • Incorporate self-reflection into your project planning to think about your experience and those who are participating. Think about what you can do to make sure everyone will feel welcomed and safe in the space you are creating.

Program Evaluation Reports
To read the 2018 program evaluation click here
To read the 2018 evaluation summary for project leaders click here
To read the 2018 evaluation summary for granting committee members click here
To read the 2018 evaluation summary for coordinators click here