Evaluation enhances grantmaker and grantee performance when information is used to inform real-time improvements to strategy and practice. By adopting a learning for continuous improvement mindset, grantmakers can use evaluation to go beyond proving an intervention has worked to instead focus on understanding why and how performance can be improved.

What does it take to learn well together?
Many grantmakers embrace the value of learning and evaluation as a path to achieving better results. However, some see evaluation as something that takes place independently and primarily for internal improvement, and they struggle to extend this learning to those outside their organizations in a meaningful way. When we learn with others, we are not simply conducting final program evaluations; we are regularly assessing ways to improve our work and finding ways to be smarter and more effective in achieving our goals. When grantmakers join their partners in the learning journey, we acquire better information, which leads to better results.

How can we embrace a learning for improvement mindset?
A priority for grantmakers and our grantees is to create a space to reflect and learn so that our organizations can become more relevant, and more effective in achieving our goals. Learning, and evaluation, that is specifically focused on improvement provides grantmakers and grantees with the information and the perspective we need to better understand both how we’re doing in our work and how to get better results. In order to embrace a learning for improvement mindset, funders need to have key conversations with our boards and staff, as well as with grantees and other grantmakers. This piece offers guidance on what those conversations should cover in order to deliver on the promise of learning for improvement and ultimately better results.

Where should we start in using evaluation as a tool for learning?
Many grantmakers agree that an increased focus on evaluation and learning can help us tease out insights on our true impact and how we can continue to do better. However, despite significant investments in evaluation in recent years, philanthropy continues to struggle to measure its work. This piece offers funders a starting point for developing and strengthening our ability to evaluate by focusing on key elements of planning and organizing the work.

Read the full article about continuous learning at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.