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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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.

The Readiness for Organizational Learning and Evaluation (ROLE) Instrument

May 19, 2016

This tool is designed to help an organization determine its level of readiness for implementing organizational learning and evaluation practices and processes that support it. The instrument's results can be used to: 1. Identify the existence of learning organization characteristics; 2. Diagnose interest in conducting evaluation that facilitates organizational learning; 3. Identify areas of strength to leverage evaluative inquiry processes; 4. Identify areas in need of organizational change and development. The organization may use the results to focus its efforts on improving or further strengthening areas that will lead to greater individual, team, and organizational learning.

Tools and Frameworks

Evaluating Complexity: Propositions for Improving Practice

November 11, 2014

This practice brief is intended to bring together knowledge about systems change, complexity, and evaluation in a way that clarifies and describes how the practice of evaluation needs to evolve to better serve the social sector.

Guidelines and Best Practices

Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact: Learning and Evaluation in the Collective Impact Context

May 5, 2014

As collective impact has gained traction across the globe, demand has grown for an effective approach to evaluating collective impact initiatives that meets the needs of various interested parties. Collective impact practitioners seek timely, high-quality data that enables reflection and informs strategic and tactical decision making. Funders and other supporters require an approach to performance measurement and evaluation that can offer evidence of progress toward the initiative's goals at different points along the collective impact journey. This three-part report responds to these needs by offering practitioners, funders, and evaluators a way to think about, plan for, and implement different performance measurement and evaluation activities.

Guidelines and Best Practices

Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact: Assessing Progress and Impact

May 5, 2014

As collective impact has gained traction across the globe, demand has grown for an effective approach to evaluating collective impact initiatives that meets the needs of various interested parties. Collective impact practitioners seek timely, high-quality data that enables reflection and informs strategic and tactical decision making. Funders and other supporters require an approach to performance measurement and evaluation that can offer evidence of progress toward the initiative's goals at different points along the collective impact journey. This three part series responds to these needs by offering practitioners, funders, and evaluators a way to think about, plan for, and implement different performance measurement and evaluation activities.

Guidelines and Best Practices

Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact Supplement: Sample Questions, Outcomes and Indicators

May 5, 2014

As collective impact has gained traction across the globe, demand has grown for an effective approach to evaluating collective impact initiatives that meets the needs of various interested parties. Collective impact practitioners seek timely, high-quality data that enables reflection and informs strategic and tactical decision making. Funders and other supporters require an approach to performance measurement and evaluation that can offer evidence of progress toward the initiative's goals at different points along the collective impact journey. This three part series responds to these needs by offering practitioners, funders, and evaluators a way to think about, plan for, and implement different performance measurement and evaluation activities.

Guidelines and Best Practices

Next Generation Evaluation: Embracing Complexity, Connectivity, and Change

September 1, 2013

This Learning Brief draws from literature and research, as well as more than a dozen interviews with foundation leaders, evaluation practitioners, and social sector thought leaders, with the intention of starting the conversation in the field around Next Generation Evaluation characteristics and approaches.

Evaluation in Foundations; Guidelines and Best Practices; Must-Reads

Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact

July 23, 2009

A surprising new breakthrough is emerging in the social sector: A handful of innovative organizations have developed web-based systems for reporting the performance, measuring the outcomes, and coordinating the efforts of hundreds or even thousands of social enterprises within a field. These nascent efforts carry implications well beyond performance measurement, foreshadowing the possibility of profound changes in the vision and effectiveness of the entire nonprofit sector. This paper, based on six months of interviews and research by FSG Social Impact Advisors, examines twenty efforts to develop shared approaches to performance, outcome, or impact measurement across multiple organizations. The accompanying appendices include a short description of each system and four more in-depth case studies.

Guidelines and Best Practices

What's the Difference? How Foundation Trustees View Evaluation

May 1, 2009

Trustee Evaluation ToolkitTrustees care deeply about impact. Understanding results is part of their fiduciary duty. As foundations strive to improve performance, advance accountability and share knowledge, their desire for evaluation -- reliable data on organizational effectiveness -- grows. Based on discussions with trustees, we've heard that current evaluation approaches don't always generate useful information. In too many cases, foundation evaluation practices don't align with trustee needs. Trustees across the United States believe there are ways to improve how we determine the effectiveness of social investments. FSG Social Impact Advisors, with funding from the James Irvine Foundation, interviewed dozens of foundation trustees, CEOs and evaluation experts to uncover critical issues and exciting ideas related to evaluation. This "toolkit" shares highlights from these interviews, and explores innovative new approaches.

Tools and Frameworks