Evaluation in Foundations: 2012 Benchmarking Data

Published: April 2013

Type: Presentation

This presentation, developed for the 2012 Evaluation Roundtable convening, examines how foundations structure their evaluation and learning functions, invest in evaluative activities, and use evaluative information.

Tanya Beer
Julia Coffman

This presentation, prepared for the 2012 Evaluation Roundtable convening, synthesizes benchmarking data on the function and positioning of evaluation and learning in foundations, including the range of activities used to produce evaluative information. It also explores perceptions of the adequacy of resources (staff and money) dedicated to evaluation-related work and how well foundations use the information they collect.

Summary findings include:

  • The evaluation function and investments continue to expand, but now the number of evaluation and full-time employees also appears to be increasing slightly.
  • Evaluation continues to play a role in shaping foundation strategy, and its use during all phases of the strategy life cycle (beginning, middle, and end) is improving.
  • Compared to evaluation staff reporting to CEOs or Administrators, staff reporting to Program are less satisfied with the level of investment in and management support for evaluation, but are more satisfied with staff’s use of evaluation.
  • Demand for program area or foundation wide assessment has increased, but meaningful investments and ways of approaching these assessments remain a need.

The benchmark findings are based on surveys from 31 foundations with a strong commitment to evaluation – and 38 foundations that participated in interviews.