Field of Work: Building foundation effectiveness
Problem Synopsis: There are numerous, competing agendas for evaluation in most foundations. Evaluation may be implemented as a tool for accountability, capacity building in the field, staff development, strategy development, or organizational learning. In addition, the use of evaluation has remained somewhat tangential to the core work or mission of most foundations. Resources are often allocated to evaluation units on a project-by-project basis, without consideration of how evaluation might contribute to the achievement of the institution's overall goals.
Synopsis of the Work: Since 1998, the Evaluation Roundtable has served as a resource to foundation directors of evaluation and program leadership involved in building foundation effectiveness. Between June 2006 and July 2010 consultants from Patrizi Associates convened four Evaluation Roundtables, one mini-Evaluation Roundtable and one workshop with evaluation and program staff from foundations across the United States.
Key Findings: Participants in the 2006 Evaluation Roundtable identified five factors that limit the use and effective practice of evaluation in foundations, that include ambivalence of foundation leadership toward the role of evaluation, leadership avoidance of the conflict evaluation data may raise and disconnection of evaluation from a foundation's program work.
The 2009 benchmarking study found that while the role of evaluation has expanded in recent years, particularly in developing a foundation's program strategy, the support for evaluative activities appears to be decreasing.