The Value of our Evaluations: Assessing Spending and Quality

Feb 8, 2018

In 2013, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation adopted a clear framework for how it evaluates strategies. The foundation formalized a set of Evaluation Principles and Practices; hired its first dedicated Evaluation Officer to support programs to commission, manage, interpret, and use evaluation findings; and made several recommendations to our Board (which were adopted) regarding evaluation spending and quality. Of course, foundation staff learn in many ways, but this set of activities represented a significant step towards a more disciplined approach for foundation staff to learn from independent third parties about the effectiveness of our grantmaking strategies. This report takes stock of progress of these recommendations to ensure the foundation is not just increasing spending and funding more evaluations, but increasing the utility and value of evaluations for more effective grantmaking. The assessment uses financial data, ratings of evaluation documents, and interviews with program staff, for a set of 46 evaluations contracted directly by program staff between 2009 and 2016.