Sunday, January 27, 2013

Evaluation at The Hewlett Foundation

The Hewlett Foundation has just posted an internal working paper on evaluation on its website. I love this - an internal working paper posted on an external website (helloo, sharing!)

The paper is well worth a read. The link is a bit buried on the site, deep into an interview with Fay Twersky the new head of Hewlett's Effective Philanthropy Group,  but the interview with Fay  (co-author of the paper) is also worth the read. Perhaps this practice of interviews with Program leadership and sharing of their internal papers will become common practice for foundations. 

The paper is useful for grantees, evaluation partners, and other foundations. I particularly value the succinct declaration of principles for evaluation, which I've paraphrased below:

Seven Principles of Evaluation at The Hewlett Foundation
  1. Lead with purpose (Know why you are doing it - what will the evaluation results inform?)
  2. Evaluation is a learning process (so prepare to learn, change, adapt)
  3. Evaluation is part of the strategy process (and should start at the beginning)
  4. Make strategic choices about what to evaluate (not everything is worth evaluating)
  5. Choose methods to maximize rigor without compromising relevance (do it as best you can while making it useful)
  6. Share the results!
  7. Use the data!
You can download the paper here

Let's hope this kind of information sharing is the start of a trend.


Amanda Dillon said...


Thank you for posting on this topic. You may have also seen this, since it's two years old, but the Gates Foundation also put forward a document outlining their framework for their own strategic measuring and evaluation in 2010 titled A Guide for Actionable Measurement.

Similarly, an interview with their
director of Strategy, Measurement, and Evaluation, Jodi Nelson, was also released on SSIR's web site.

Unknown said...

I just read your article about giving on linkedin.

I am a single mum supporting 2 of my kids still.We go skip diving for food,foraging for firewood and still sometimes go hungry.*Not the youngest(only me and my daughter.Big charities give to big institutions,the church to the elderly.I have instilled it in my children to always share,not judge.Homeless are often judged completely without any fact,if i can i give.Yesterday i offered my couch to a man of 50 that had a brilliant career but finds himself unemployed and everything fell apart.
I have been trying to spread the concept of personal giving to people you know or pass every day.
It is hard to get past peoples prejudices.
I am looking for somewhere to live as we,re overcrowded but lists of NO dhs, NO students,no single mothers and crazy rents,
I think poverty close and personal scares people so imbedded giving is easier and sanitary no need to get too close.Yet you still feel good about your charitable self.
Last year I was lucky that a friend paid for my coal all winter so we were warm,but still had sausage egg and chips Christmas.Without that friend things would have been dire.He still helps pay for my daughters bus pass to uni,without she couldn,t go.

This year who knows.We will eat well in early January when our supermarket skips lots of food assuming they don,t pour bleach on it first,as they do sometimes.

My daughter 23 my son 16 are by no means deprived.They are bright,voracious readers and top in their classes,poverty is a blip that taught them survival skills and compassion,understanding and appreciation when they do get things,

PS. but we still fantasies about having things,only human i guess.

How come nobody EVER asks the poor what do you actually need.
My friend paid for coal but also makes it possible for my daughter to get her degree.He got me tools so we had free veg and eggs from 3 hens this summer.It made a big difference,

This winter ...who knows but usually I find a solution. Maybe instead of only big organizations you might encourage rich people to look around their own neighborhood or ask those in the know,