Foundations Talk Evaluation

June 28, 2013

Chats with Philanthropy on Evaluation

Howard Greenwald talked to a bunch of foundation folks, including directors of evaluation and CEOs, about their perspectives on, support for, and uses of program evaluations. The result? A pithy and insightful article in the American Journal of Evaluation with interview findings and broad recommendations for both philanthropy and the evaluation field. For example, many interviewees called on evaluators to produce reports in clear, jargon-free language that foundation stakeholders can digest easily and use in making decisions. As one person said: “If you want attention from anyone in the hierarchy you need to do this.”


We know that foundations grapple with the question of ROI, or return on investment, when deliberating over advocacy grants (just check out Paul Brest’s “Risky Business” and you’ll see what we mean). Seeking to tackle this discomfort with uncertainty, and push philanthropy further into the advocacy space, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy published Leveraging Limited Dollars. Their key stat is this: $115 in impact to $1 in funding.  Now, fortunately, they don’t stop there; there’s an explanation of this “monetized impact” and what it actually means, in practice and on the ground in communities across 13 states. Numbers and words…so happy together.

Climate Change

This week, President Obama laid out his plan for dealing with the threat of climate change, which included significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions at power plants around the country. But no one expects that he’ll go unchallenged. ScienceOnline Climate, a community of people in support of robust climate and environmental legislation, wants to help folks amplify their voice in this coming debate. Their August 15-16 conference is designed to equip climate experts, social scientists, and other stakeholders with effective strategies and messaging tools to advocate for climate and related efforts.