Shifting the Evaluation Paradigm: The Equitable Evaluation Framework™

  • April 30, 2021

This publication provides an overview of the impetus for the Equitable Evaluation Framework™ (EEF) and attempts to document early moments and first steps of engagement with U.S. philanthropic institutions — most often their research, evaluation and learning staff — whom we refer to as foundation partners throughout this publication. The themes shared in this publication surfaced through conversations with a group of foundation staff who have been part of the Equitable Evaluation Project, now referred to as the Equitable Evaluation Initiative (EEI), since 2017 as advisors, investment partners and/or practice partners.

These are not case studies but insights and peeks behind the curtains of six foundation practice partners. It is our hope that, in reading their experiences, you will find something that resonates, be it a point of view, a mindset or a similar opportunity in your place of work.

But as your colleagues share here, once you understand and see how narrowly these constructs have been defined, it cannot be unseen. The only option is to be, think and do evaluative work differently. In keeping with the EEI intention to shift the evaluation paradigm, this publication does not read in a linear fashion, nor does it follow “traditional” evaluation report form and flow. If we are to get someplace new and different, we must embrace new ways of reflecting what we are hearing, gleaning and sharing from those who are in the work. As you read along, notice commonalities in experience, perspective and positioning among the stories, and also consider the ways in which this conversation pushes your own thinking about how evaluative practice can serve its highest aim in U.S. philanthropy.

They are thinking about how this influence manifests in all foundation operations and are wondering how others began to think about this reality in the context of evaluation practice. We went back and forth on naming names. We recognize the tendency to be either too specific or too general when telling stories about or from within institutional philanthropy. Because this work is both individual and organizational, we opted to keep names. We think it is important to understand who, with all their identities, took the early steps and were willing to share their experiences.

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Shifting the Evaluation Paradigm: The Equitable Evaluation Framework™

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