Request for Proposals for PIRF evaluation process

1.0 Assignment overview

The Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet; is looking for a qualified evaluator to design and implement an evaluation process for the Procurement and Investment Readiness Fund (PIRF) over the lifespan of the Fund.

2.0 Background

The Procurement and Investment Readiness Fund (PIRF) is a grant fund for social enterprises in Ontario that supports social enterprises to assess their procurement and investment readiness, and to access the services and capacity building supports necessary to successfully compete for procurement and investment opportunities. Ultimately, the goal of the PIRF is to make it possible for social enterprises to be successful in winning larger contracts and investment which will allow them to significantly expand the scope and reach of their social impact. The PIRF is funded by the Government of Ontario (MEDJCT) and is administered by the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet in partnership with key leaders in the social enterprise sector. The Fund is slated to end in March of 2021.

CCEDNet is a national association of organizations and people throughout Canada committed to strengthening communities by creating economic opportunities that enhance social and environmental conditions.

The Procurement and Investment Readiness Fund (“the Fund”) is the first of its kind in Canada. The Fund is based on the model of the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund (ICRF) which existed in the UK from 2012 to 2015. A call for proposals was announced by the Government of Ontario in November of 2017 for administration of the Fund, based on a prescriptive set of guidelines developed from research conducted by a team of government officials about the UK model. These guidelines are available here:

The grant fund awards three types of grants: i) Assessment Grants of up to $5,000 to be used by the social enterprise to hire an Assessment Partner to undertake an assessment of their investment or procurement readiness and develop an action plan for becoming more investment or procurement ready. ii) Capacity Building Grants of up to $50,000 to implement all or part of the Capacity Building Plan developed through the assessment. iii) A separate Catalytic Grant stream of up to $100,000 to support social enterprises who are investment or procurement ready to secure that larger investment or contract. For the Catalytic Grant, the social enterprise must have identified an investment or procurement opportunity valued at four (4) times the amount of grant monies being requested. An assessment is not required for the Catalytic Grant.

For more detailed information about the Fund, please go to

Collaborative governance structure:

The Fund is a partnership of thirteen partners and is governed by a collaborative governance structure set up among the thirteen partners. Each partner has a representative who sits on the Leadership Group, which meets regularly to discuss and review developments of the Fund. Please see Annex 2 for the list of these partners. The collaborative governance structure is an innovative and important feature of this Fund.

3.0   Scope of the evaluation

3.1. Purpose and objectives of the evaluation

The objectives of the evaluation process are:

  1. To assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the Fund.
  2. To generate and capture on-going learning about the Fund (to be fed back to key stakeholders and especially the Program Administrator) for the purpose of continuous improvement of the Fund and to inform the design of any future funds of this kind in Canada.
  3. To generate and capture learning about the collaborative partnership governance model, for the sake of continuous learning and improvement of that process.
  4. To independently verify results of the Fund.

The main purposes of the evaluation are i) for learning in order to improve the Fund and maximize the extent to which the Fund is meeting the needs of social enterprises in Ontario; and ii) for accountability, to independently demonstrate results of the Fund.

3.2 Evaluation approach

The evaluation is intended to provide timely and actionable feedback to allow for adaptive management, as well as documenting and validating the learning about the Fund, balancing both accountability and learning.

A goal of the Fund is to be as responsive as possible, employing an iterative, learning approach. It is expected that the Fund will evolve over the course of its duration, in response to feedback from key stakeholders including social enterprises (applicants and others), reviewers, service providers, members of the Leadership Group, and government; and in response to on-going learning of the Leadership Group partners about the Fund. The evaluation process will be instrumental in establishing the mechanisms to generate and capture this learning for continuous improvement of the Fund.

3.3 What will be evaluated?

3.3.1. The Fund

  1. a)       Efficiency of the Fund’s operation. Is the Fund being administered in the most efficient way? Or could it be further streamlined, to be easier for both the Program Administrator, the reviewers and the applicants?
  2. b)      Effectiveness of the Fund to date: Results of the Fund for the social enterprises supported.

What has been the impact of the Fund for the social enterprises supported? Included but not limited to increasing levels of confidence of the social enterprise to pursue procurement or investment, as well as the development of specific skills and strengthened organizational capacity.

  1. c)       The social impact of the funding: While it is considered that measurement of the impact of funding on the lives of individuals and communities is outside the scope of this evaluation given the nature of the Fund activities and questions of attribution, it would likely be useful to undertake a few case studies to illustrate possible impact of the funding on the lives of individuals and communities served by the social enterprise.
  2. d)      Continuous learning and responsiveness of the Fund: Evidence of adaptation of the Fund in response to i) feedback from social enterprises, reviewers, service providers and (especially) applicants, as well as from ii) continuous learning on the part of the Program Administrator and Leadership Group about what works best (or does not) regarding implementation of the Fund. What adaptations have been made to date and what is this in response to?
  3. e)      Capture lessons learned and best practices as the Fund evolves.

3.3.2 The collaborative partnership governance model of the Leadership Group

Evaluation of the partnership of the thirteen members of the Leadership Group over the course of the Fund:

  1. a) Mission-related: For each of the 13 partners, how important is the partnership in relation to the mission of their organization?
  2. b) Expectations: Assessment of initial expectations of partners with regards to their participation in the Leadership Group and management of the Fund, and how these expectations are met (or not) over the course of the Fund.
  3. c) Perceptions of value added: What is considered by partners to be the value added of participating in the Group, and how does this change over the course of the Fund? Why did the partner initially want to participate as a partner (re: the value added to their organization), and does this ‘why’ still hold? What does this participation bring to the partner organization that would not exist if the Fund and Leadership Group did not exist? (If the partnership were to end, what would be the loss effect for the partner organization?)
  4. d) Results of the partnership: According to the partners, what has resulted from the partnership which would not have happened if the partnership had not existed? (Final evaluation of partnership.) Including but not limited to the development of “non-traditional” partnerships (i.e. collaboration among people which would not usually take place) and spin-off partnerships that were made possible as the result of the relationships developed through the collaborative partnership.
  5. e) Partnership collaborative governance process: According to the partners, how efficient and/or effective has the partnership been? How might it be improved? What is working/ worked and what is/ did not (best practices and lessons learned)? What would the Leadership Group recommend as best practices for a successful collaborative process? For mid-term evaluation: What course corrections would the partner recommend? For final evaluation: What would the partner recommend for any future such collaboration?
  6. f) Capture lessons learned and best practices as the process evolves.

3.3.3 Indicators required for reporting to MEGJCT as the funder

Please see Annex 1 for a detailed list of indicators we must report on to MEDJCT for the Fund.

4.0 Who will use the evaluation and how?

Who will use the evaluation?


Government of Ontario

To assess the effectiveness of the Fund. We assume that the evaluation will also help influence whether or not to continue and expand the Fund.

Partners of the Leadership Group

To understand what works best to support social enterprises and what recommendations to push for regarding policy and practice in the future.


As the program administrator of the Fund, to make course corrections for improvements over the course of the Fund based on learning about the Fund as the Fund evolves.

Possibly others looking to set up a similar Fund

A document might be created which outlines key best practices and lessons learned for anyone among the general public who might be interested in setting up a similar Fund.

5.0 Timing of the evaluation activities

Various activities of this evaluation contract will take place over the duration of the Fund until March of 2021:

  1. A final logic model and theory of change, and a monitoring and evaluation framework including but not limited to the Performance Measurement Framework for the project, needs to be developed as soon as possible once the contract has been signed with the selected consultant.
  2. Once these pieces have been developed, the consultant will be expected to set up a system for tracking the evolution of the Fund as well as the evolution of the partnership of the thirteen partners conforming the Leadership Group.
  3. A mid-term evaluation is expected to take place at approximately the mid-term of the operation of the Fund, which was launched in December of 2018 with first applications accepted for January of 2019. It is estimated that the mid-term evaluation would take place around January of 2020.
  4. A final evaluation must be completed before March of 2021.
  5. There is a small budget for a meeting of grant recipients and service providers for the purposes of soliciting their feedback on various aspects of the Fund and results thereof. It is estimated that this meeting would take place in the last year of the Fund, possibly in September of 2020. This could be included as part of the final evaluation. This would be an important opportunity for critical feedback from grant recipients, about the extent to which the Fund met their needs, and about how other activities developed through the Fund were useful (or not) to them.
  6. Through-out the duration of the Fund, it is expected that the evaluator will set up a process for capturing key lessons learned and best practices for a) the management of the Fund, and b) the collaborative governance partnership, and to document these lessons learned and best practices.

All of these activities will be undertaken in close collaboration and with the full support of the Program Administrator.

Regular on-going monitoring of the project will be undertaken by the Program Administrator.

6.0 Evaluation activities planned in the project

The following activities are monitoring and evaluation activities currently planned to take place in the project:

–  On-going feedback from applicants via contact with Program Administrator

–  Evaluation of service provider by grant recipient

–  Check-in by Program Administrator of each grant recipient

–  Final interview with grant recipient once grant is completed. (Program Administrator or evaluator?)

–  Regular reporting to government of Ontario by Program Administrator

–  Mid-term and final evaluations

–  A meeting of grant recipients. This might be a one-day event, for grant recipients to meet each other, to learn about their respective work, to discuss what they did with the funding, and for us to hear from them about their experience with the Fund. (Also bring service providers in?)

7.0 Sources of information for the evaluation  

–  Grant recipients

–  Program Administrator

–  Leadership Group members (group of 13 partners)

–  Reviewers (sitting on selection panels)

–  Data generated from the on-line grant platform (Fluid Review)

–  Information and data from grant recipient reporting

8.0 Minimum deliverables of evaluation consultant

  1. Evaluation work plan for the consultancy
  2. Theory of Change and Logic Model for the project (drafts Logic Model presently exists)
  3. Performance Measurement Framework for the project
  4. Project monitoring and evaluation framework
  5. Set up of system for on-going tracking of evolution of the Fund
  6. Set up of system for on-going tracking of evaluation of Partnership collaboration (Leadership Group)
  7. Mid-term evaluation
  8. Final evaluation
  9. Document on lessons learned and best practices for managing this type of Fund.
  10. Document on lessons learned and best practices regarding the collaborative governance partnership.

9.0 Qualifications of the evaluation consultant

  • Master’s degree in social sciences, community economic development, or monitoring and evaluation of public programs, or equivalent experience.

–  Experience in/ familiarity with the social enterprise sector and community economic development (CED) approaches.

–  Demonstrated experience leading and implementing evaluation processes, including the implementation of mid-term and final evaluations.

–  Experience with participatory approaches to evaluation.

–  Strong interpersonal abilities and excellent communication skills

–  Strong writing and analysis skills

–  Bilingual (French/English)

–  Asset: Experience with evaluation in capacity building of social enterprises

–  Asset: Familiarity with recent social finance developments in Canada (including at federal government level)

–  Asset: Ideally, based in Ottawa

–  Asset: Familiarity with Fluid Review grant platform data generation

–  Social enterprises encouraged to apply

10.0 Timeline

The selected evaluator would begin activities immediately. Evaluation activities would continue until March of 2021.

11.0 Budget

The budget available for this evaluation process is in the range of $60,000 to $80,000. This includes both evaluator fees and taxes, as well as all other evaluation costs including but not limited to any travel costs, the costs of meetings (food, rental of space, other) with various stakeholders, any costs associated with data analysis, etc. There is a separate budget for the meeting of grant recipients (please do not include this in budget estimates).

11.0 To apply

Please send your CV, a brief methodology proposal and approximate estimated budget (to be further refined once the evaluator is selected) to Philippa Wiens, Senior Program Manager, at by March 24th 2019.


ANNEX 1: MEDJCT indicators

What does the Fund have to report on?

List of MEDJCT indicators from the Contribution Agreement:

  1. Number of social enterprises competing for procurement and investment opportunities.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per data from the applications for the Fund.

(Baseline: 0)

  1. Number of procurement and investment opportunities accessed by social enterprises.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per data from the applications for the Fund and final reports of grant recipients. (Baseline: 0)

Also: “Number of social enterprises successfully accessing investment.” “Number of social enterprises being awarded contracts.”

  1. Number of relationships developed between social enterprises and service providers.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per engagement of service providers with social enterprise awardees of the Fund, tracked through the service provider engagement tracking sheet of the Fund. (Baseline: 0)

  1. Number of engagements of purchasers and investors in social enterprises.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per data from grant recipient final reports for the Fund. (Baseline: 0)

  1. Number of opportunities for social enterprises through sustainable markets.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per data of the number of social enterprises accessing markets through the Akcelos on-line e-commerce platform. (Baseline: 0)

  1. Number of social enterprises with increased access to capital.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per data from grant recipient final reports for the Fund. (Baseline: 0)

  1. Number of financially sustainable social enterprises operating in Ontario.”

Project qualifier: Increase in this number as a result of the Fund. As per data from applications for the Fund. (Baseline: 0)

  1. Dollar value of the investment and procurement opportunities accessed by social enterprises.”

Project qualifier: … through the Fund. As per data from final reports of grant recipients for the Fund. (Baseline: 0)

  1. Number of social enterprises that have applied for grants, in each stream.” (Baseline: 0)

And also:

  1. “Percentage of relationships developed with government, large publicly-funded projects, anchor institutions and corporations.”

Note: As per work of lead procurement experts in the project. (Baseline: 0)

  1. “Number of people reached through the awareness campaign on social procurement investment.”

Note: As per work of lead procurement experts in the project. (Baseline: 0)

  1. “Number of social enterprises with enhanced understanding of procurement and investment readiness”

Note: As per work of lead procurement and investment experts in the project. Also from data generated through final reports of grant recipients of the Fund. (Baseline: 0)

  1. “Number of investment opportunities listed on the online portal [of investment opportunities and resources].”
  2. “Number of resources available on the online portal [of investment opportunities and resources].”
  3. “Number of networking opportunities facilitated [between investors and social enterprises]” and “frequency of networking events [between investors and social enterprises].

Note: As per work of lead investment experts in the project. (Baseline: 0)

  1. “Proportion of potential purchasers and investors attending networking events.”

Note: As per work of lead procurement and investment experts in the project. (Baseline: 0)

ANNEX 2: List of 13 partners

  1. Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet)
  2. Toronto Enterprise Fund (TEF)
  3. Centre for Social Innovation (CSI)
  4. Social Venture ConneXion (SVX)
  5. Conseil de la Coopération de l’Ontario (CCO)
  6. Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED)
  7. mecenESS
  8. Pillar Nonprofit Network (Pillar)
  9. PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise (PARO Center)
  10. Northern Ontario Research, Development, Ideas and Knowledge Institute (NORDIK)
  11. Social Enterprise Institute (SEI)
  12. Buy Social Canada
  13. Commerce Solidaire