Evaluation is best used to answer questions about what actions work best to achieve outcomes, how and why they are or are not achieved. When done well, evaluation is a powerful tool to inform foundation and partner decision making about how to optimize scarce resources for maximum impact. It is distinct from other forms of measurement that focus only on observing whether change has occurred, not why or how that change occurred.
Our evaluation policy is intended to help foundation staff and our partners align their expectations in determining why, when, and how to use evaluation. More specifically, the policy encourages foundation teams to be more transparent, strategic, and systematic in deciding what and how to evaluate. Our aim is to integrate evaluation into the fabric of our work, achieve early alignment with our partners about what we are evaluating and why, and generate evidence that is useful to us and our partners as we move forward.
Our evaluation policy is rooted in our business model, which involves working with partners to achieve the greatest impact.
This approach reinforces the role of evaluation in testing innovation and making improvements.
· We consider evaluation to be a collaborative learning tool that provides us and our partners with feedback so we can learn, adjust, and decide how best to achieve outcomes.
· We apply rigor to our decision making on when and how to use evaluation and the types of evaluation to implement.
· We believe that evaluation is crucial to learning from innovative projects and pilot programs before they are implemented on a larger scale.
· We are optimistic that evaluation can spread benefits across many disciplines as we share useful evidence with partners and others.
All foundation-funded evaluations—conducted by our Evaluation Committee—are recorded in a foundation evaluation registry. This helps us track evaluation spending and findings, and ensure continuity and consistency.