A Practical Guide for Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Evaluation Questions

RWJF commissioned FSG Social Impact Advisors to develop a guide for program officers, grant recipients, evaluators, researchers, and others interested in evaluation on how to engage stakeholders in developing evaluation questions. Since stakeholders are potential users of evaluation findings, their input into the scope of the evaluation is critical to ensuring the integrity and value of evaluation results. This guide provides the reader with a five-step process for involving stakeholders in developing evaluation questions, and includes a set of four worksheets to facilitate this process.

Categories: Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Achieving Foundation Accountability and Transparency: Lessons From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Scorecard

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shares what they learned from developing their Scorecard. Comparative and quantitative measures were found to be the most powerful forces to motivate change.

Categories: Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Aggregate Regional Association Logic Model

This logic model is an aggregation of key activities that you perform as a regional association (RA). It was developed in conjunction with RAs that attended Innovation Network’s evaluation session at the 2013 Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers Annual Conference, and was further vetted by a group of RA representatives before being finalized. The purpose of this aggregate logic model is to provide RAs with a springboard to build their own logic models and other planning documents.

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Building a Strategic Learning and Evaluation System for Your Organization

The call for evaluation has grown louder in the field of philanthropy. There is a need for a deeper understanding of ongoing activities to inform strategic decisions about what to do next. But despite this growing need, current practices are often uncoordinated and unhelpful at an organizational level. How can organizations’ evaluation processes be more systematic, coordinated, and intentional, leading to greater understanding of their impact?

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Building Evaluation Capacity

Evaluation is a process that applies systematic inquiry to program management, improvement, and decision making. Evaluation is also used to assess the status or progress of a strategy (i.e., a group of meaningfully connected programs, not just the simple aggregation of multiple programs) or an initiative (a grouping of strategies). Evaluation Capacity is the ability of staff and their organizations to do evaluation. Because evaluation is systematic, it involves proficiency in a particular set of skills.

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Co-Creation: Viewing Partnerships Through A New Lens

“Co-Creation” is a series of case studies about the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a project of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. The case studies, written by Patricia Bowie, examine co-creation, an emerging systems change collaboration model which grew out of a funder-and-state partnership. This unique partnership led to the creation by executive order of a new and independent Office of Early Childhood, which was formally approved by the Connecticut State Legislature in 2013.

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Consumers Guide to Integrated Systems for Community Foundations

Idealware partnered with Technology Affinity Group and PEAK Grantmaking to update the publication, Consumers Guide to Integrated Systems for Community Foundations. In this edition, they review and compare eight software packages to see how they meet the specific needs of community foundations. Thanks to the generosity of partners, it’s free to download.

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Evaluation Use in Philanthropy: Evaluative Thinking for Grantmakers

This guide helps you develop and expand the use of evaluation and evaluative thinking by providing definitions, key components, sample assessments and more.  

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Evaluative Tools for Articulating and Monitoring Foundation Strategy

While foundation leadership and staff value strategy and foundations largely perceive themselves as strategic, they often struggle to articulate, implement, and track strategy. The William Penn Foundation has developed a collection of tools to articulate and assess its progress toward strategic goals.

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Frameworks for Private Foundations

This GrantCraft Leadership Series paper produced in partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, explores the core frameworks that shape private foundations, and offers a roadmap for funders interested in reflecting on these frameworks to better align purpose, public benefit, and action.

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Jump Start Learning In Your Organization – Webinar

Understanding how to build a culture of learning to support your staff can be challenging. Whether you are a small foundation just starting to develop a new approach to learning or you are a well-established grantmaker looking for fresh ideas, this free, 45-minute webinar will help you support learning in your organization. Listen to the webinar, or download the slides.

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Lessons (Not Yet) Learned

The authors recommend steps that foundations and their nonprofit partners could take to learn from failed social investments. They explore in detail what a lesson truly learned looks like and offer steps to identify and learn important lessons.

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Leveraging Grant-Making—Part 2: Aligning Programmatic Approaches With Complex System Dynamics

This is the second of two articles that focus on tools that enable foundations to increase the leverage of their grantmaking resources by working effectively with the dynamics of complex social systems. It emphasizes that “powerful questions” addressed to board, staff, grantees and other stakeholders can help transform thinking. It examines how foundations can align planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts with the behavior of the social systems they seek to improve.

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Leveraging Grantmaking: Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Social Systems

The purpose of this article is to enable foundations to increase leverage of their grant-making resources by working with the dynamics of complex social systems. The article explains why good intentions can lead to less than desirable results, distinguishes systems thinking from more familiar linear approaches, and explains how systems analysis can redirect our focus from addressing problem symptoms to dealing with underlying causes of these problems.

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Marguerite Casey Foundation: Reflecting on 15 Years of Philanthropic Leadership Through a Summative Evaluation

This article presents the findings of a summative evaluation of the Marguerite Casey Foundation that was conducted on the occasion of its 15th anniversary. The evaluation was designed to gauge stakeholders’ perceptions of the foundation’s operations to facilitate organizational learning. In sharing these results, the authors seek to elucidate the role of evaluation as a learning practice within the field of philanthropy.

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New Perspectives on Michigan Community Foundations

Combining both longitudinal and contextual population data, this report offers new ways to think about community foundation growth and alternative benchmarks for individual community foundation trustees and executive leaders to use in planning and evaluation.

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Organizational Learning at The Skillman Foundation

This report evaluates how The Skillman Foundation’s work practices and culture, and its relationship with its core intermediaries, supports the Foundation’s aspiration to be a high-performance learning organization.

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Philanthropy, Evaluation, Accountability, and Social Change

The author argues that many foundations have substituted process accountability for accountability for contributing to social change. Accountability in terms of required reporting is important, but it sets a floor, not an aspirational ceiling. There are tools — such as risk analysis, systems approaches, and game theory — that can help philanthropy engage in work on complex social problems that cannot be deconstructed into a series of small, linear projects.

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Readiness for Evaluation and Learning: Assessing Grantmaker and Grantee Capacity

This tool will provide you with questions of readiness. What is the existing evaluation practice of my organization or program? What is the existing evaluation capacity of my organization or program?

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Staying Connected: How Five Foundations Understand Those They Seek to Help

Staying Connected: How Five Foundations Understand Those They Seek to Help profiles five foundations ranked among the top 15 percent of foundations that commissioned a Grantee Perception Report (GPR) between 2016 and 2017 when it comes to how their grantees rated them on questions related to their understanding of intended beneficiaries’ needs. The work of these five foundations seeks to help beneficiaries in a range of focus areas — from students to children and adults in need of affordable health care.

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The Philanthropy As One Big Impact Investment: A Framework For Evaluating A Foundation’s Blended Performance

This article proposes a framework for evaluating a foundation’s blended performance that enables both grantmaking and endowment investing to be evaluated jointly, and thus also allows a complete evaluation of how impact investments could improve — or fail to improve — overall performance.

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Through the Looking Glass: Foundation Evaluation and Learning and the Quest for Strategic Learning

This article addresses different models that foundations use to establish staff evaluation and learning functions.

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Trustee Evaluation Toolkit

Traditional approaches to foundation evaluation do not help trustees make informed strategic decisions. This toolkit offers new ways for trustees and foundations to better plan work, improve implementation and track progress toward goals.

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