From Insight to Action: New Directions in Foundation Evaluation (2007)

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Publishing information: 
Mark Kramer with Rebeccca Graves, Jason Hirschhorn and Leigh Fiske Boston: FSG Social Impact Advisers, June 2007. 56pp. Free download available online

This report distills the learning and experience of foundations that have used evaluation effectively in order to provide clear guidance to those that are still searching for useful practices. The authors note that, increasingly, foundations are moving beyond traditional third-party outcome studies toward more performance-centered approaches that provide foundations and their grantees with current information and actionable insights. On the basis of 100 interviews and over 20 case studies, five broad principles for effective evaluation practices are described. Firstly, create the organisational culture and processes necessary to translate information into action, including resourcing the evaluation process. Secondly, directly engage key decision-makers, as engaged participants are more likely to act on the results. Thirdly, let grantees take the lead, because they are best placed to develop accurate and efficient metrics. Fourthly, choose the fewest and simplest measures in order to provide workable solutions. Finally, use targeted, compelling methods of communication so that evaluation results can be heard within this ‘information-saturated’ age.

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