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Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Sub-Strategy to Support Local Family Planning and Reproductive Health Advocacy in Sub-Saharan Africa

March 10, 2022

In 2016, the Hewlett Foundation launched its international reproductive health strategy to support local advocacy in sub-Saharan Africa. This strategy continued the foundation's focus on ensuring that women can decide whether and when to have children. The strategy had an ambitious goal: A vibrant sector of local civil society organizations (CSOs) in sub-Saharan Africa that can capably and positively influence the family planning and reproductive health (FPRH) policies and funding decisions of their own national governments and of international donors. To contribute towards this goal, the strategy was grounded in five principles that the foundation expected would inform its own practices as well as the practices of grantees and their CSO partners:Support local advocacy priorities while seeking opportunities to connect these to global advocacy efforts,Strengthen and provide more hands-on and sustained technical assistance tailored to each organization,Support longer-term advocacy partnerships that strengthen and support local advocacy capacity,Encourage mutual accountability among all parties: funders, intermediaries, and local partners, andMeasure progress, document, adapt and share what is learned.The foundation commissioned a five-year developmental evaluation to identify and share emergent lessons about this "principles-based approach" throughout the process of strategy implementation. In this report, we summarize key findings, lessons, and recommendations from the final data collection period of this learning and evaluation process (September 2020 - July 2021). Our analysis draws on interviews with the foundation's grantees and their CSO partners, foundation staff, civil society leaders in Africa, and peer funders, as well as a "context review" of trends and developments in the broader philanthropic and international development field in which the strategy was situated.

Stigma-Free Abortion Services in Ghana: Project summary and pilot results

April 28, 2021

From August 2019 to January 2021, Youth Development Labs (YLabs) partnered with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) on the Stigma-Free Abortion Services (StigFAS) project, with the goal of increasing access to safe abortion services for young women and girls in Accra, Ghana.The project approach involved exploring the challenge through participatory qualitative research, developing an intervention through a youth-driven design process, and implementing a small pilot program. The intervention consisted of three complementary elements designed to increase girls' awareness of safe abortion options and improve their linkage to sexual health services, including safe abortion care. These elements wereGirl Boss, a future-focused outreach program led by female peer mentorsSister Support, a free phone/text confidential counseling and referral serviceSafe Pass, a partnership with local pharmacists to guide girls to safe abortion services.

Reducing Abortion Stigma: Global Achievements since 2014

February 10, 2021

Abortion stigma affects everyone: individuals, communities and service providers. Young women and adolescent girls bear the brunt of abortion stigma. It causes delays in people seeking abortion and stops others from accessing it, leading to unintended pregnancies. Stigma drives abortion underground, where it is more likely to be unsafe.Since 2014, the support of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation has enabled IPPF to reduce abortion stigma affecting young people around the world, working directly with Member Associations in six countries (Bénin, Burkina Faso, India, Pakistan, Ghana and Nepal). Meaningful youth participation has ensured that young people's lived experiences were central in every aspect of this work. This project has also supported smaller ground-breaking youth-led projects in 14 different countries: Albania, Colombia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Macedonia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Tanzania and Venezuela.This document highlights the achievements and learnings from the Abortion Stigma Project between 2014 and 2020, including case studies, research and evidence generated around abortion stigma, and popular resources and tools developed throughout the project, and more.

Developmental Evaluation in Practice: Lessons from Evaluating a Market-Based Employment Initiative

September 26, 2016

Developmental evaluation (DE) has emerged as an approach that is well suited to evaluating innovative early-stage or market-based initiatives that address complex social issues. However, because DE theory and practice are still evolving, there are relatively few examples of its implementation on the ground. This paper reviews the practical experience of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) team in conducting a developmental evaluation of a Rockefeller Foundation initiative in the field of digital employment for young people, and offers observations and advice on applying developmental evaluation in practice.Through its work with The Rockefeller Foundation's team and its grantees, the M&E team drew lessons relating to context, intentional learning, tools and processes, trust and communication, and adaption associated with developmental evaluation. It was found that success depends on commissioning a highly qualified DE team with interpersonal and communication skills and, whenever possible, some sectoral knowledge. The paper also offers responses to three major criticisms frequently leveled against developmental evaluation, namely that it displaces other types of evaluations, is too focused on "soft" methods and indicators, and downplays accountability.Through its reporting of lessons learned and its response to the challenges and shortcomings of developmental evaluation, the M&E team makes the case for including developmental evaluation as a tool for the evaluation toolbox, recommending that it be employed across a wide range of geographies and sectors. With its recommendation, it calls for future undertakings to experiment with new combinations of methods within the DE framework to strengthen its causal, quantitative, and accountability dimensions.

Evaluation in Foundations; Tools and Frameworks

The Power of Randomized Evaluation: Understanding Issues, Adapting Solutions

August 17, 2014

In international development there is a tension between the drive to "scale what works" and the fundamental reality that the world is complex, and solutions discovered in one place often can't be easily transported to different contexts.At Innovations for Poverty Action, we use randomized controlled trials to measure which solutions to poverty work and why. We believe that this methodology can help to alleviate poverty, and yet we don't advocate focusing solely on programs that are "proven" to work in this way. One risk of funding only "proven" and therefore "provable" interventions – the "moneyball of philanthropy" – is that interventions proven to work in one place could be transposed to new situations without attention to context, which could be a disaster. Also, interventions that cannot easily be subjected to rigorous evaluation may not get funding.The risk of the other extreme – focusing only on the details of a complex local environment – is that we may fail to uncover important lessons or innovative ideas that can improve the lives of millions in other places. Focusing only on the complexity and uniqueness of each situation means never being able to use prior knowledge, dooming one to constantly reinvent the wheel.