Evaluating the contribution of foundations to societal change
Two Strategic Round Tables held on 29-30 January and 26-27 November 2015 in the Philanthropy House in Brussels, facilitated by Barry Knight (Executive Director, CENTRIS and advisor to the Global Fund for Community Foundations - UK), an expert in the field of evaluation and knowledge management.
Evaluative approaches are numerous. Choosing what suits them best represents a challenge for foundations. In times of multiple systemic crises it becomes an outright challenge, especially when our actions are geared towards social innovation and societal change in a context of strong sustainability (socially, environmentally, economically and citizens-led).
- our grantmaking programmes / supported projects have to take a huge complexity into account;
- the expected impact can only be fully realized in the longer term, and is influenced by the actions of many third parties;
- one must be able to adapt one's objectives and actions to a changing environment;
- one must nevertheless be able to draw, and make use of, the lessons from the evaluation in time, so as to steer the development of the project / programme.
Conventional evaluative methods (ex-post), whether quantitative, qualitative, participatory or not, have their limitations in such a context. Therefore, what tools and approaches can help?
Foundation 3.0 Strategic Round Table of January 2015 has deepened how our foundations can evaluate (their) actions targeting systemic societal change. Particular emphasis was placed on the exchange of practices and experience different foundations on these topics. The Round Table of November, followed this up with a practical “hands-on” meeting, built on case studies and particular examples of impact assessment in foundations.