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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Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices

September 1, 2016

For foundations, there are lots of questions to reflect on when thinking about which evaluation practices best align with their strategy, culture, and mission. How much should a foundation invest in evaluation? What can they do to ensure that the information they receive from evaluation is useful to them? With whom should they share what they have learned?Considering these numerous questions in light of benchmarking data about what other foundations are doing can be informative and important.Developed in partnership with the Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI), Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices is the most comprehensive data collection effort to date on evaluation practices at foundations. The report shares data points and infographics on crucial topics related to evaluation at foundations, such as evaluation staffing and structures, investment in evaluation work, and the usefulness of evaluation information.Findings in the report are based on survey responses from individuals who were either the most senior evaluation or program staff at foundations in the U.S. and Canada giving at least $10 million annually, or members of the Evaluation Roundtable, a network of foundation leaders in evaluation convened by CEI.

Evaluation in Foundations; Must-Reads

Guest Post: Systems Mapping and Evaluation

December 2, 2014

At the Center for Evaluation Innovation, our mission is to push the evaluation field forward in new directions. This often means we're doing things we've never done before, like using systems mapping in our evaluation work. In an earlier blog post, Daniel introduced the systems map for the Madison Initiative and the rationale for creating it. Now that the first draft is public (and open for comments!), we have some early thoughts about using systems mapping as an evaluation tool.First, to set the context: We are conducting a developmental evaluation of the Madison Initiative's initial phase of experimentation, learning, and field building. Our role is to be a "critical friend" to the strategy team, asking tough evaluative questions, uncovering assumptions, and collecting and interpreting data that inform ongoing strategic decisions. This role deeply affects our choice of evaluation questions, tools, and methods, starting with our choice to use a systems map rather than a theory of change to guide our evaluation work.

Evaluating Networks for Social Change: A Casebook - Part 2 of a Guide to Network Evaluation

July 30, 2014

The casebook is part 2 of of a guide to network evaluation. This document provides profiles of nine evaluations that detail key questions, methodologies, implementation and results while expanding what is known about assessment approaches that fit how networks develop and function. It was written as a complement to a framing paper: The State of Network Evaluation, which offers the field's current thinking on frameworks, approaches and tools to address practical questions about designing and funding network evaluations.What will I learn in the guide?· How an evaluation can help a network function more effectively and promote network health· Elements of a network that can be evaluated· Approaches, methods and tools for evaluating networks· How to design a network evaluation that fits the? network type and investment (e.g., size, stage of development; issue focus)· Key questions to ask in a network evaluation· Examples of network evaluations and what has been learned from them

Guidelines and Best Practices; Tools and Frameworks

Framing Paper: The State of Network Evaluation

July 30, 2014

This document is Part 1 of a Guide to Network Evaluation and offers the field's current thinking on frameworks, approaches and tools to address practical questions about designing and funding network evaluations. It was developed along with a casebook Evaluating Networks for Social Change: A Casebook that provides profiles of nine evaluations that detail key questions, methodologies, implementation and results while expanding what is known about assessment approaches that fit how networks develop and function. What will you learn in the guide? · How an evaluation can help a network function more effectively and promote network health · Elements of a network that can be evaluated · Approaches, methods and tools for evaluating networks · How to design a network evaluation that fits the? network type and investment (e.g., size, stage of development; issue focus) · Key questions to ask in a network evaluation · Examples of network evaluations and what has been learned from them

Tools and Frameworks

How Shortcuts Cut Us Short: Cognitive Traps in Philanthropic Decision Making

May 1, 2014

Foundations need to build new ways of thinking and interaction that help to combat cognitive traps, support rigorous inquiry, and foster more deliberative decision making. This brief highlights several common cognitive traps that can trip up philanthropic decision making, and suggests straightforward steps that strategists, evaluators, and organizational learning staff can take to address them.

Guidelines and Best Practices; Must-Reads