Evaluative Thinking In Philanthropy
Extending Bruner Foundation's work in building evaluation capacity and evaluative thinking in grantee organizations, Evaluative Thinking in Philanthropy, E-TIP, was designed specifically for grantmakers. The project provided an opportunity for grantmakers to access current, useful, concise information about evaluation and to address strategies for enhancing evaluative thinking a type of reflective practice that incorporates use of systematically collected data to inform organizational decisions and other actions.
E-TIP provided the Foundation an opportunity to explore a Theory of Change and, based on assessments, to further develop and refine it's Assessment Tools for Building Evaluation Capacity and Evaluative Thinking.
Specifically, the Theory of Change stated that:
- If mid-sized, regional grantmakers 1 know more about evaluation and evaluative thinking, and
- If they have access to quality training which helps them use their knowledge, then
- They will be more likely to use evaluative thinking across multiple organizational areas.
1It was assumed that regional grantmakers would be more likely to have a simpler, more direct grantmaking/program management structure than grantmakers funding in multiple locations.
In addition, the project posited that the increased use of evaluative thinking would inform the efforts of grantmaking organizations to:
- Commission and participate in better external evaluations
- Do better evaluations of their own grants and grantmaking strategies
- Use evaluative thinking skills for planning, asking key questions throughout the organization, systematically gathering and analyzing necessary data, converting data to useful action plans that strengthen not only grantmaking, but the organization
- Guide or assist grantees more effectively in the area of evaluation
The E-TIP pilot project was conducted with 8 individuals from the United Way of Greater Rochester (NY) and 11 individuals from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (CT). It included four 2-hour, on-site sessions over a 6 month period in 2010. Each session was co-led by Anita Baker, evaluator, and Beth Bruner, Bruner Foundation.
Session topics were:
- What is evaluation and how is it used by grantmakers?
- How can solid program evaluation, a first building block of Evaluative Thinking, be useful to grantmakers and what's involved in getting it done?
- What is Evaluative Thinking and how do you apply it at grantmaking organizations?
- How do you get evaluation done?
For a summary report of E-TIP including a 6-month follow-up, click here