In March 2015, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (EMKF) created a new department tasked with evaluating the Foundation's impact— through both its grant-making and the programs it operates directly. The purpose of this document is to describe and explain the Foundation's policies for measurement and evaluation, which have been drawn from the best practices of others in this field and tailored to the needs of EMKF.
Our goal is to clearly describe—for associates, grantees, and the community—the purpose, values, and tools used in evaluation at EMKF.
Our evaluation work is guided by six key values:
1. Meaningful—we focus on collecting and analyzing data that directly informs our strategies and goals. Evaluations should include useful and actionable results that assist board, staff, and grantees in decision-making.
2. Credible—evaluations are designed to meet the highest evidentiary standard possible, while recognizing that different approaches are necessary depending on the context. In addition, evaluation materials seek to be as rigorous and accurate as possible, while also noting important limitations and assumptions.
3. Timely—we design and conduct evaluations with the goal of providing results quickly enough to be relevant for informing strategic decisions.
4. Collaborative—all evaluations should be designed with input from multiple stakeholders, including the board, senior leadership, program staff, grantees, and external advisors as appropriate for a particular project.
5. Flexible—the Foundation and its grantees work in areas that are complex and highly fluid, requiring evaluation approaches that are customized to meet the needs and context of each area. In addition, evaluation approaches should be designed to allow for modifications resulting from mid-course corrections or other changes that arise over time.
6. Transparent—we strive to share the results and lessons learned from our grantmaking with the broader community (other funders, non-profit organizations, policymakers, influencers, and the public) so that they may gain from our experiences.