• Description

Grantmaking foundations are increasingly using E&L functions in diverse ways. A 2019 survey from the Center for Evaluation Innovation found that 42 percent of foundations had a dedicated E&L unit or department that functioned separately from the program department, up from 34 percent in 2015.

The survey also shows that E&L staff fill numerous and evolving roles including directing and managing evaluation work within the foundation; supporting broader team and organizational learning efforts, including equity work; supporting strategy development and review; and providing advice or coaching about evaluation to other staff. Beyond the foundation's walls, many E&L teams contribute to the fields of evaluation and philanthropy by sharing actionable knowledge or learning strategies with peer organizations. Field-building increases the influence and impact of a foundation by helping to advance philanthropic thought leadership and E&L practices more broadly.

But leveraging the power of evaluation and learning is easier said than done. This guide is a resource for foundation executives interested in harnessing the power of evaluation and learning for impact. It was developed by Engage R+D with support from The James Irvine Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Center for Evaluation Innovation, and Kresge Foundation. It is based on our study of the E&L function across these three diverse foundations, all of which champion the Equitable Evaluation Initiative and are on their own equity journeys.