March 1, 1999
Over the past decade, evaluation has become an increasingly prominent (albeit vexing) function within philanthropy. More and more foundations are beginning to devote at least minimal levels of resources to evaluate the programs they fund. The topic of evaluation appears more and more at professional conferences. Membership in Grantmakers Evaluation Network -- an "affinity group" of foundation representatives interested in promoting evaluation -- has mushroomed to over 400. As the "demand" for evaluation has increased among foundations, the market has begun to fill up with a mixed bag of consultants (from both academia and the private sector) willing to supply their services. Particularly this last indicator suggests that evaluation will take root in the philanthropic sector. Yet, although evaluation is becoming a more popular activity among foundations, its potential is far from being realized.