The most comprehensive review of evaluation and learning practices at foundations, this report offers benchmarking data on foundation learning and evaluation practices collected in 2023.
In the ever-evolving landscape of philanthropy, foundations are continuously seeking ways to enhance their effectiveness and maximize their contributions to social impact. Foundations across the country are striving to change how they work to be more equitable, trust-based, and community-centered—including in their learning and evaluation practices.
How can foundations position learning and evaluation so that it aligns with their core values?
One invaluable resource aiding this endeavor is the Center for Evaluation Innovation’s new 2023 release of its Benchmarking Research on Foundation Learning and Evaluation Practices report. This signature research has been tracking trends in how foundations structure, staff, resource, and prioritize the work of their learning and evaluation functions since 2009.* This year, we made key shifts in this research cycle to align with our own north star of racial equity and social justice.
The 2023 report includes survey data from learning and evaluation leaders at independent and community foundations with an annual grantmaking budget of at least $10 million annually and/or who engage with the Evaluation Roundtable network. Leaders at 106 foundations completed it. Where possible and appropriate, we used time, foundation commitment to equity, and foundation annual giving as frames in analyzing the data.
These findings offer a starting point for crucial reflections and conversations about learning and evaluation work in the philanthropic sector. They provide us with an opportunity to be in community together and give us a mechanism for holding ourselves accountable to what we think our sector should be doing.
*See past research here: 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2019. Benchmarking research in 2009 was conducted by Patrizi and Associates. In 2012, it was a collaboration between Patrizi and Associates and CEI. In 2015, it was a collaboration between CEI and the Center for Effective Philanthropy.