Philanthropy, Evaluation, Accountability, and Social Change

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Key points:

  • Many foundations have substituted process accountability for accountability for contributing to social change.
  • While process accountability is important, 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.
  • Seeking to extend basic human rights to more individuals around the world, seeking to reduce racism in a given city, or seeking to change public health norms in small town—all of these aspirations require first a willingness to take on challenges that defy short-term, causal, quantifiable results attributable to a best practice.

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Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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