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Here's the set of questions that together can help us all figure out if an evaluation might make a difference:What are the decisions that the findings from the evaluation could inform? Are those decisions going to be based on evidence about program effectiveness?When are those decisions going to be made?Can the evaluation change anyone's mind?If these questions were applied systematically and early in program design and implementation, we'd have more good and useful evaluations -- ones that are well-timed and use appropriate methods. We'd have better clarity about the purpose of the evaluations we conduct. The timing and methods would match the needs of the decision makers, and greater transparency could mitigate against political influences. At the same time, we'd end up with fewer evaluations that are purely symbolic.
A thorough document created for a more comprehensive internal understanding of the role of evaluation at the Hewlett Foundation, "Evaluation Principles and Practices" serves as a guide for foundations and grantees looking to better understand the best practices and principles of evaluation. The document provides a broad overview of different types of evaluations with cursory instruction on implementation in the context of organization-wide adoption. It is organized into four substantive sections: (1) Principles, (2) Organizational Roles, (3) Practice Guide, and (4) Special Evaluation Cases. It also includes a helpful glossary of terms.
Describes the benefits and methods of a quantitative process for evaluating potential program investments -- based on benefit, likelihood of success, the foundation's contribution, and cost -- to maximize return on resources.
This is a tool that calculates the expected return of an investment by multiplying (benefit in a perfect world x likelihood of success x philanthropy's contribution)/cost.