The Foundation Strategy Group just released a report culminating a year of interviews with leaders in the field on evaluation in the nonprofit world. The report, From Insight to Action, finds that foundations are undergoing a fundamental change in the way they use evaluation. “A shift in thinking has broadened from “What was the impact of our grants?‘ to ‘What do we need to know to increase our effectiveness?’ ” The report finds that evaluation is most useful when it is used to answer three questions:
* How can we better plan our work?
* How can we improve implementation?
* How can we track progress toward our goals?
Foundations are increasingly moving toward real-time evaluation, and measuring progress in their field of interest, rather than the isolated impact of their specific grants. There is increasing emphasis on a culture of learning, and of delegating more aspects of evaluation to grantees, who are much better placed to understand and gather data on indicators in the field.