FavoriteEvaluators play a critical role in supporting philanthropic learning, programming, and strategy, but evaluation and learning in philanthropy is often limited in ways that impede deeper resonance and impact. Most philanthropic evaluation is focused on the needs of individual foundations, knowledge sharing with the broader field is limited, and foundations struggle to integrate evaluation and learning as a management tool. This article makes the case that evaluators and funders can do more to build the collective capacity of evaluators working in philanthropy in order to enhance their contributions to community change. This article also examines the ways that evaluation in Read more
FavoriteAs the field of philanthropy has matured, increasing attention has been paid to evaluating the impact of philanthropic investments. In recent years, the scope of evaluation has expanded to include an intentional focus on organizational learning with the goal of learning from ongoing work, informing decision-making, and ultimately improving impact. With this momentum to carry out organizational learning strategies and share successes, the sector has not yet stopped to reflect on challenges and lessons learned in the process of building the capacity for organizational learning — the messy yet meaningful middle between a desire for learning and the implementation of Read more
FavoriteKnowledge in the form of information suitable for decision making or advocacy by foundations is not always readily available — a situation unacceptable for those who need such information for accountability, learning, and influencing policy and practice. This article addresses how essential information about monitoring, evaluation, and lessons learned can be made available to foundations. The Fred Hollows Foundation identified a gap in this area through an evaluation capacity-building readiness assessment, and introduced the concept of participatory, real-time monitoring, evaluation, and learning bulletins grounded in the principles of knowledge translation. This article describes how those bulletins were developed and used Read more
FavoriteWhat are the roadblocks that limit reflective practice in the field of philanthropy? Between the desire to move the needle on social change and the pressure to be productive, philanthropy as a field is understandably driven to focus on doing and resistant to taking time to reflect on practice. This article is designed to help foundations encourage leadership and staff to put their expertise into play as a learning strategy. This article defines reflective practice and traces roots and research that can inform its use. It also reports on interviews with philanthropy practitioners about how they use various reflective practice Read more
FavoriteMany social sector organizations are looking to balance their strategic plans with an ability to respond more quickly to change as it unfolds in their communities. For many years — but gaining particular urgency in 2015 — Kaiser Permanente Community Health saw a need to better understand the progress and impact of its portfolio and use its data to adapt strategy in response to its changing context. To increase its capacity for strategic learning, Community Health worked with FSG to develop and implement a system called Measurement and Evaluation for Learning and Outcomes. While this process was tailored to Community Read more
FavoriteThis article from John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Peter Senge, aims to clarify what it means to shift the conditions holding problems in place and provides an actionable model for those interested in creating systems change. Through defining the 6 conditions of systems change and highlighting organizations that are shifting systems, the article explores: How systemic conditions perpetuate inequity and reinforce racism, sexism, or ableism. The critical need for foundations to focus on changing relationships and connections, power dynamics, and mental models in their work. How foundations can build the capacity to support systems change internally and externally.
FavoriteKey Points The 2011 publication of John Kania and Mark Kramer’s influential paper, “Collective Impact,” caught the attention of organizations across sectors, including nonprofit organizations and philanthropies. The Colorado Health Foundation was one of the organizations that saw the potential of collective impact to help tackle the state’s complex, systems-level health issues. This article describes a collective impact initiative and the role that developmental evaluation – and a realist framework – played in aiding both the initiative’s steering committee and the Colorado Health Foundation in making decisions about the initiative’s accomplishments and future. The article highlights the developmental evaluation approach, Read more
FavoriteThis issue is devoted to philanthropy’s developers – the people, organisations and networks central to the growth and development of philanthropy worldwide. Whether that’s data and research, advice and consulting, training, advocacy or representation, there’s an essential and vibrant but under-appreciated eco-system of philanthropy support worldwide. In our special feature, Alliance editor, Charles Keidan and guest editors, Benjamin Bellegy and Maria Chertok offer a new and change-oriented vision for the future development of the field. The feature includes views from leading funders about why infrastructure matters, as well as discussion of the impact of tech, and the need for better data, collaboration and Read more
FavoriteIn this March 2018 issue of Alliance, we look in-depth at the phenomenon of diaspora philanthropy. With increasing numbers on the move, new ties are being formed between peoples, nations and states across the world. While most attention has focused on remittances – the act of sending money from one place to another – we shine a light on the philanthropic dimensions of diasporas worldwide. The perspectives of contributors from Africa, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Ireland and Palestine, to name a few of the places you can read about in this issue, reflect the truly global nature of diaspora giving. While Read more
FavoriteStaying 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.
FavoriteIdealware 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.
Favorite“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.
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteCombining 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.
FavoriteEvaluation 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.
FavoriteUnderstanding 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.
FavoriteThe 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?
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteThis 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?
FavoriteThe 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.
FavoriteWhile 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.
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteThe 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.
FavoriteTraditional approaches to foundation evaluation do not help trustees make informed strategic decisions. This toolkit offers ways for trustees and foundations to better plan work, improve implementation and track progress toward goals.
FavoriteThe 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.
FavoriteRWJF 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.