Need practical how-to info that aims to help you build your evaluation capacity? This collection includes suggested readings from our friends at BetterEvaluation, the Center for Evaluation Innovation, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations as well as hand-picked content by Candid. Thousands of actual evaluations are  available for download.

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Making sense of a strategy that never was: Lessons from an OSF program

June 13, 2022

 This brief summarizes the lessons learnt along the way, offering both insights from experience and practical tools for strategy design. Our aim in sharing these lessons is to equip funders and civil society organizations to embrace complexity and to inspire deeper engagement with culture, communications, and other key elements that are critical to bringing any strategy to lifeThe Economic Justice Program (EJP) of the Open Society Foundations ran from 2018 until the end of December 2021. During this time EJP developed the Foundations' first-ever strategy dedicated to fighting economic injustice and advanced approaches to good grantmaking for social change. Due to organizational changes, the strategy was never implemented as designed. But it was successful by many other measures; in the words of one staff member: "Despite numerous moments when many of us (definitely me) wondered if it might not actually be possible, we truly became a team, with a strategy and a culture we all believed in." Read or download the full report through the DOI link to the right.

Engaging Boards and Trustees in Strategic Learning: A Toolkit

January 17, 2019

Effecting social change in a rapidly changing political environment and an increasingly interconnected world requires foundations to adopt a learning orientation. Without continuous learning, grantmakers—and thus boards and trustees—are unaware about what is working where, with whom, and why, as well as what changes or refinements are needed in order to achieve the grantmakers' desired results.This toolkit provides a fresh set of resources for grantmaker CEOs, evaluation staff, and senior leaders to use to engage their boards and trustees in conversations about the importance of strategic learning in their decision-making and deliberation processes.

Reimagining Measurement: A Better Future for Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

December 1, 2017

Despite marked advances in the tools and methods for monitoring, evaluation, and learning in the social sector and a burgeoning number of bright spots in practice that are emerging in the field, there is nevertheless broad dissatisfaction across the sector about how data is -- or is not -- used.Reimagining measurement has engaged the field in thinking about where monitoring, evaluation, and learning is likely to head over the next decade. Over the course of extensive research and more than 125 conversations with leading foundation executives and program staff, evaluation experts, nonprofit leaders, data wonks, and other stakeholders, it became clear that there is a real divergence between the future people expect for monitoring, evaluation, and learning, and the future people hope for.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluation: How to Become Savvy Evaluation Consumers

November 1, 2017

A new Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluation released in November 2017 for grantees, nonprofits and community leaders is a successor for the original Evaluation Handbook that was published in 1998 and revised in 2014. The new guide is available here by clicking Download PDF. The original handbook provides a framework for thinking about evaluation as a relevant and useful program tool. It was written primarily for project directors who have direct responsibility for the ongoing evaluation of W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded projects.Increasingly, we have targeted our grantmaking by funding groups of projects that address issues of particular importance to the Foundation.The primary purpose for grouping similar projects together in "clusters" is to bring about more policy or systemic change than would be possible in a single project or in a series of unrelated projects. Cluster evaluation is a means of determining how well the collection of projects fulfills the objective of systemic change. Projects identified as part of a cluster are periodically brought together at networking conferences to discuss issues of interest to project directors, cluster evaluators,and the Foundation.

Evaluation in Foundations; Guidelines and Best Practices

Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI)

May 3, 2017

PPI is a tool that gauges the number of microfinance clients that moves out of poverty over time. The PPI asks 10 questions that are predictive of poverty (e.g., what are the walls of your house made of?). Microfinance loan officers then integrate these questions into their standard loan application and maintenance interviews. Data collected over time is aggregated to show movement of groups of clients relative to poverty.

Guide to LEED Certification: Commercial

May 2, 2017

LEED is a tool that certifies green buildings. It establishes a benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings and its requirements for certification are detailed in a checklist. Points are assigned to a project as it meets individual items on the checklist and a final point tally determines whether certification is awarded and the level of certification (platinum, gold, silver, or certified).

Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool

May 2, 2017

This self-assessment tool for non-profit organizations was developed by the Marguerite Casey Foundation to help organizations understand their current capacity and map out goals for improvement based on four key areas crucial to success, based on The Conservation Company's Capacity Assessment Grid: Leadership, Adaptive, Management, and Operational capacity. The tool provides instructions for filling out the form as well as calculations that provide a score to benchmark progress toward improvement. Results from the assessment can also help grantmakers deepen their understanding of the current capacity of their grantees as well as track their growth in capacity over time.

Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT): 2.0

May 2, 2017

This is a tool to measure organizational capacity. Each element from the Capacity Framework's seven elements of organizational capacity is scored on a grid, by selecting the text that best describes the organization's current status or performance. The seven elements of organizational capacity are: 1) Aspirations; 2) Strategy; 3) Organizatonal Skills; 4) Human Resources; 5) Systems and Infrastructure; 6) Organizational Structure; and 7) Culture.

Global Impact Investing Ratings System

May 2, 2017

Powered by the B Impact Ratings System, this tool assesses the social and environmental impact of companies and investment portfolios. It provides ratings similar to Morningstar investment ratings or S&P credit ratings. The Company Impact Rating is an aggregate numerical score and star-rating for individual companies built-up from their ratings in five stakeholder categories (environment, community, employees, consumers/products, and governance/ leadership) and fifteen sub-categories. The Portfolio Impact Rating is an aggregate numerical score and star-rating for an investment fund based on a rollup of the underlying Company Impact Ratings for the companies in its investment portfolio.

Fair Trade Certification

May 1, 2017

Fair Trade Certification is a tool that allows agricultural products to bear the label "fair trade certified." The Fair Trade Certified label is a guarantee that Fair Trade prices and "social premiums"--funds dedicated to community development initiatives such as education, health systems, and women's empowerment projects, as well as productive investments in product quality or related areas--were paid to cooperatives or other farmers' and workers' organizations by U.S.-based companies offering FTC products. These payments are verified by TransFair USA's supply-chain auditing services. TransFair USA's certification process combines desk audits and periodic on-site inspections of U.S. production facilities. In addition, certified products are guaranteed to have been sourced from cooperatives or other organizations in the developing world that meet international standards for environmental performance and progress, democratic and transparent governance, and working conditions. These criteria are verified by regular on-site inspections carried out by TransFair USA's partners in the global Fair Trade certification and labeling network, which spans 21 countries in the global North together with 60 developing nations.

Making Evaluations Matter: A Practical Guide for Evaluators

April 3, 2017

This guide is primarily for evaluators working in the international development sector. However, if you are a commissioner of an evaluation, an evaluation manager or a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) officer, you too will find it useful.Too often evaluations are shelved, with very little being done to bring about change within organisations that requested the evaluation in the first place. This guide will explain how you can make your evaluations more useful. It will help you to better understand some conceptual issues and appreciate how evaluations can contribute to changing mindsets and empowering stakeholders. On a practical level, the guide presents core guiding principles and pointers on how to design and facilitate evaluations that matter. Furthermore, it shows you how you can get your primary intended users and other key stakeholders to contribute effectively to the evaluation process.

Completing Your Charting Impact

March 29, 2017

Charting Impact is a common framework that allows staff, boards, stakeholders, donors, volunteers, and others to work together, learn from each other and serve the community better. It complements planning, evaluation, and assessment that organizations already undertake, and can be used by nonprofits and foundations of all sizes and missions. Charting Impact is a joint project of Independent Sector, GuideStar, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.This discussion guide explains the five questions at the heart of Charting Impact and offers guidance for developing your organization's responses to them. This material should help your discussions with key members of your organization as you consider how to communicate your goals, strategies, capabilities, progress indicators, and accomplishments through this framework.

Guidelines and Best Practices; Tools and Frameworks