Strategy and Practice

Posted on October 20, 2020

Our Call to Action

Good Intentions Are Not Enough: Making Evaluations More Useful for Foundation Strategy and Practice

Lead Authors

  • Sarah Stachowiak ORS Impact
  • Nikki Kalra ORS Impact
  • Kim Ammann Howard The James Irvine Foundation

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In 2019, the Evaluation Roundtable for the first time broke with historic practice and invited evaluation consultants to join a gathering that had previously been exclusive to foundation evaluation staff. As part of the meeting, the facilitators asked all participants to write down what they most wished the other would do differently. The number one request of foundation evaluation staff? Ask harder questions. The number one request by external evaluators? Let us ask harder questions.

If we both want the same things (harder questions addressed) for the same reason (equitable progress toward the ambitious, inspirational missions that foundations aspire to), why aren’t we doing better?

Clearly, good intentions are not good enough.

This paper presents six cross-cutting areas for focus and change along with specific actions that can be taken by external evaluators and foundation evaluation staff to help accelerate the meaningful use of evaluation for foundation strategy and practice.