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Program Evaluation > Methodology, Definitions, and Scope  > Theory of Change

Policy Summary

Carolina Small Business Development Fund seeks to operate from an evidence-based theory of change that rigorously evaluates how our programs and interventions are contributing to community economic development. Like most non-profits, we recognize that meaningful program evaluation is a challenge because of the nature of our work. Nevertheless, we’re committed to translating our programmatic outputs into measurable outcomes which can be validated and tracked. Our commitment to program evaluation accountability includes posting all findings, whether they are positive or negative, on our website.

Why This Matters

CSBDF and other community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are critical actors in the promotion of sustainable and community-oriented economic development. But evaluating the effects of CDFI programs has long been a challenge due to both organizational capacity constraints and the difficulty of isolating our effects within complex community systems in which we work. Despite that difficulty, we think it is important to work within these constraints to produce quality program evaluation.

Suggested Citation

Carolina Small Business Development Fund. 2020. Organizational Theory of Change and Our Approach to Program Evaluations (Updated December 10). Raleigh, NC. https://carolinasmallbusiness.org/evaluation/theory-of-change/.


Policy Overview (PDF)


Research Program

Our work is shaped by evidence-based and apolitical research highlighting why small businesses are the foundation of economic development.

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Data Transparency

Carolina Small Business values openness about how we measure our impacts. We publish how we define outcomes to demonstrate our commitment to accountability.

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