Evaluation by grantmakers evolving

In an effort to go beyond simple tracking and reporting, some foundations now are using evaluation to improve their own effectiveness, a new study says.

Increasingly, grantmakers are using evaluation not only to document what they’ve done in the past, but to glean lessons that can help funders better achieve their missions in the future, says the report from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the Council on Foundations.

That means embracing failure, rather than hiding it, in an effort to learn how to avoid future mistakes.

By conducting evaluation at the enterprise level, rather than only at the grant-by-grant level, foundations are able to align the various strategies they use with the organization’s overall mission.

And through “participatory evaluation,” foundations are including multiple stakeholders in the process and striving to make measurement relevant to each.

“One thing distinguishes those grantmakers who are truly committed to results,” Kathleen Enright, CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, says in a statement. “They aren’t complacent. They consistently and vigilantly strive to do better on behalf of the communities and issues they care about.”

She says the “fuel for such a continuous-improvement mindset is the data and feedback accessed through the thoughtful application of evaluation.”

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