We believe in learning from and with our grantee partners–sharing what is working well and what isn’t, and finding ways to continuously improve and adapt.
Evaluation and learning are inextricably linked with strategy. The tools of ongoing monitoring, third-party evaluation, and intentional learning enable us and our grantees to continually improve our grantmaking and amplify our impact in the world.
We define monitoring, evaluation, and learning in this way:
- Monitoring is the ongoing collection of information about program implementation and the shifting strategic context. It helps us understand what is and is not working, and what is emerging in our fields.
- Evaluation is the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data for the purpose of determining the value of and decision-making about a program or policy. Evaluation looks at what we have set out to do, what we have accomplished, and how we accomplished it.
- Learning is the use of data and insights from a variety of information-gathering approaches—including monitoring and evaluation—to inform strategy and decision-making.
Our monitoring, evaluation, and learning work is guided by five principles:
Continuously Learn and Adapt
Making progress on tough issues requires continuous feedback, learning, and timely use of information to inform and adapt our strategies. Our emphasis on continuous improvement recognizes that once strategies hit the ground, they are likely to require adaptation as the Foundation and our grantee partners learn about what works and the context changes. To make this happen, we prioritize learning and experimentation within and across our programs, with Trustees, funder partners, and, particularly, our grantee partners.
Learn in Partnership
We believe in building high quality feedback loops to systematically collect data, act upon it, and share it back with stakeholders. We work to build monitoring, evaluation and learning capacity and design inclusive practices where Foundation staff, funders, and, in particular, our grantee partners and those being impacted by the work are engaged in the design, implementation, and reflection of our combined efforts.
Use a Variety of Information
We believe we make better strategic choices and better grants when we are informed by a range of information. Therefore, we believe in the importance of program staff and grantee partners tapping into a variety of information sources, including hearing from people doing the work as well as those we seek to help, when designing programs, implementing the work, and evaluating progress.
Building a culture of inquiry is essential to surfacing insight into our successes, our failures, and emerging possibilities. We seek to create a culture where Foundation staff and grantee partners question assumptions, share diverse perspectives, and challenge each other’s thinking to advance our shared goals.
Share Learning to Increase Impact
We believe that openly sharing what we’re learning generates value for our grantee partners and those being impacted by the work, and that it also drives field-level impact. We seek out strategic opportunities to share what we are learning, to co-create insights with our partners, and to use these insights to inform and galvanize change in our fields. We seek to steer a sensible course between total transparency and a respect for our grantee partners’ privacy and trust.