GEO created this guide to help grantmakers get to the next level in their evaluation efforts. The target audience is champions and supporters of evaluation who want to embed these practices more deeply in the work of their organizations.
The term "evaluation" can refer to a lot of different activities, including data collection, information gathering and research about grantmaker-supported activities. GEO's emphasis, however, is on "evaluation for learning."
Evaluation is about more than ensuring that grantees are doing what they promise, or that a specific program area at a foundation is meeting its goals. Rather, it's about advancing knowledge and understanding among grantmakers, their grantees and their partners about what's working, what's not and how to improve their performance over time.
Using evaluation in this way requires grantmakers to transform themselves into learning organizations. Beyond getting smarter about specific evaluation methods and approaches, this means adopting a continuous process, a culture and a commitment to support the capacity of people to see patterns and insights that can lead to ever-improving results.