Giving Compass' Take:

• Foundation evaluations need to improve within the sector, and below are four strategies that may help foundations better evaluate in the future. 

• How can individual donors re-evaluate their charitable efforts utilizing some of these strategies? 

• Learn how evaluation supports systems change. 

There’s a longstanding tension about the role of evaluation in foundations.

While there’s been a great deal of discussion about the need to document the results of foundation grantmaking, there is actually not a great deal of evidence that evaluation is being used in meaningful ways.

Foundations typically contract with external evaluators to actually carry out the evaluation work. Over the past two years, a group of evaluation consultants and foundation staff who lead evaluations have been meeting to identify ways to develop a more diverse cadre of evaluators to work with foundations. The Funders and Evaluators Affinity Network (FEAN) has noted that there is a general lack of understanding among evaluators about how to work with foundations.

So, how can foundation evaluation be improved?

  • Invest in getting more and more diverse evaluators familiar with how foundations work.
  • Reframe evaluation as a management tool.
  • Have internal conversations about your culture and how evaluation fits into it.
  • Spend time up-front on the difficult conversations about what it is you are evaluating – and why.

Read the full article about foundation evaluations by Teri Behrens at PEAK Grantmaking.