Evaluative Thinking In Philanthropy
Training and group interaction focused on program evaluation and evaluative thinking is worthwhile to both individual grantmakers and their organizations. It can help grantmakers can change their thinking about and practice of evaluation.
E-TIP helped participants enhance evaluative thinking skills (asking questions of substance, determining data needed to address questions, gathering appropriate data in systematic ways, analyzing data and sharing results, developing strategies to act on findings) in multiple aspects of their work.
E-TIP provided an "academic frame" for evaluation and evaluative thinking and helped connect evaluative thinking to organizational capacity such as:
- being selective about what gets evaluated on what schedule
- recognizing that evaluation requires forethought and is more than adding up results
Participants expect they will do better evaluations of their own grantmaking when those needs arise as a result of the E-TIP project.
Materials developed through E-TIP can benefit other grantmakers. (See Bruner Foundation website for link to Five Guidebooks for Grantmakers)
Applying evaluative thinking may be challenging unless there is both commitment and involvement of the organizationís leadership (including the Board).
Challenges and Issues for Further Consideration
- One-size does not fit all: The duration, timing and total number of learning sessions need to be based on needs of the organization
- A pre-assessment of participants and organizational leadership would be helpful both in session design and development of follow-up activities
- Group projects or activities focused on application of the training material would enhance learning, but would require a more substantial commitment of time
- Not all participants agreed that learning effective evaluation practices is necessary to enhance use of evaluative thinking; some suggested develop ing content and training applications that focus on evaluative thinking as a "way of doing business"/a systematic way of thinking for grantmakers rather than on using materials that focus primarily on evaluation skill development
- Case study materials related to the benefits of evaluative thinking would be useful as would guided projects with real-time application
To view the complete E-TIP summary report click here