Measuring and learning with rubrics

Laudes Foundation developed a rubrics-based methodology to help us, our partners and the wider field of philanthropy, understand our contribution to systems change, while learning and adapting to new and unforeseen circumstances. 

Change cannot be captured by numbers alone because metrics put the focus on what can be counted, not always what’s most important. Rubrics are a framework that set a standard for what ‘good’ looks like – and create a shared language for describing and assessing it using both quantitative and qualitative evidence. At Laudes Foundation, the rubrics are integrated into our grantmaking processes – from the design phase through to measurement, evaluation and learning.

Rubrics categories 

Our 21 rubrics work across different levels, from processes to long-term impact. When measuring a specific initiative, a smaller set of relevant rubrics are chosen and assessed on a rating scale from ‘harmful’ to ‘thrivable’. 

They are categorised into four groups, with some natural  overlap between categories B, C and D.

Infographic with headings 'Are the processes in place working?' 'How are our partners contributing to systems change?' and 'Is the system changing?'

The four Laudes Foundation rubrics categories

Embedding rubrics into our grantmaking process 

Rubrics are a part of our work and are used in all grants over EUR 100,000

During the grant application process, partners select one to four rubrics from categories B and C that are aligned with their initiative’s goals. Partners also select and self-assess rubric A5 on organisational capacities to contribute to those goals. General Operating Support and core support grants also assess rubric A5. 

Partners rate their initiative on a scale from 'harmful' to 'thrivable' when assessing the baseline and submitting learning reports, fostering a comprehensive understanding of our contribution to change.  

Grant Applications

Explore our measurement and learning approach

The rating scale

Each rubric is rated using the following generic five-point rating scale: 

An infographic showing The Rating Scale, from Harmful to Thrivable

The rating scale


Why rubrics?

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A rubric is a framework that sets a standard for what ‘good’ looks like – and creates a shared language for describing and assessing it.

Reimagined for the field of philanthropy, rubrics become a measurement system that is sensitive to the changemaking process, captures how systems change happens – and highlights pathways to get there.

As well as improving our own measurement and learning approach, the rubrics are available for use by our partners and any organisations involved in grantmaking and systems change.

The rubrics appear to be quite generic. Can they successfully demonstrate shifts in my specific industry?

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Laudes Foundation’s 21 rubrics are purposefully designed to be applicable across a wide range of initiatives, clusters of initiatives, industries, geographic locations, and so on. 

A small selection of relevant rubrics is applied when assessing an initiative or cluster of initiatives. The same set of rubrics should be used in every evaluation to track progress over time.

What is the logic behind the rating scale?

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Laudes Foundation’s objective is to prevent climate breakdown and reduce inequality which is central to the development of these rubrics. To help calibrate the rating levels across the rubrics, Laudes Foundation staff and evaluation experts have considered the impact of each level of performance on these urgent agendas.

  • Conducive and Thrivable: increasingly good practices and outcomes that result in climate-positive and equitable changes. The group has carefully considered each rubric to ensure this highest level represents a serious stretch target, but is achievable with a sustained effort.
  • Partly Conducive: minimally acceptable practices that are contribute to progress in some instances. At this level the result is ‘minimally conducive’ but has room to scale to make a significant difference. 
  • Unconducive: performance, practices, beliefs and attitudes that maintain the status quo. The group feels it is important the label for this rating conveys a ‘below par’ performance.
  • Harmful: performance, practices, beliefs and attitudes that harm people and/or the environment. This might mean the result is aggravating the situation, and important issues have not been taken into account, that need to be urgently addressed.

What kind of evidence can be used to measure and evaluate each rubric?

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Partners, with support from Laudes Foundation’s programme and effective philanthropy teams, identify and select the most relevant data sources and quantitative and/or qualitative evidence to track the initiative’s contributions to intermediary and long-term outcomes. 

The rating of any specific rubric is based on more than one source of evidence, and preferably contrasting evidence and sources of data that establish independent confirmation. This helps ensure conclusions are robust and not overly dependent on just one source of data or perspective. 

Robust conclusions and ratings are not purely a matter of validity; credibility is also important. Consider how others would read your assessment and what additional supporting evidence is needed to convince them the rating is justified and not just an opinion.