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How an Effective Approach to Evaluation Can Help Tie a Foundation’s Communications Program to Its Mission

Foundations that only see evaluation as something that helps determine the success or failure of a program or initiative are overlooking other ways a more strategic approach to evaluation can help staff of grantmaking organizations – including communicators – achieve their organization’s philanthropic mission.

Foundations that approach evaluation as an ongoing inquiry, rather than a discreet activity at the end of a project, can generate useful information and knowledge that, among other things, can help answer questions that more and more external audiences are asking these days, such as: What is the foundation trying to accomplish…and Why does it believe that this approach has the greatest chance of success?

According to a recent paper on that topic (which can be downloaded free of charge from the Foundation Center), Patricia Patrizi, principal of Patrizi Associates, urges grantmakers to rethink the role of evaluation within their organizations in order to create more accumulated knowledge, more purposeful evaluation, and better information for better decisions. In Patrizi’s view, evaluation should be an ongoing, collective responsibility “at every stage of grantmaking…at the center of everything we do.”

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