Measuring What Matters: Funder Evaluation

Funders often ask grantees to have assessment strategies in place. However, they don’t always practice what they preach in terms of evaluation.

Philanthropy New York introduces a new three-part program series that encourages funders to look internally at their foundation’s values, practices and strategies in service of building a culture of quality improvement. Designed to help foundation professionals turn the mirror on their own work, this program will help funders determine how to better align their work with the impact they wish to see in the world.

Through a combination of lecture, small group workshops and homework designed to engage analytical thinking, participants will begin by exploring their foundation’s values and underlying mission elements to anchor their evaluation practices.They will then gain practical knowledge of the fundamental elements that constitute good evaluation processes. The series will conclude with guidance on implementation from peers in the field.Participants will hear tips on how to regularize assessment as part of everyday foundation processes, how to use information for continuous quality improvement, and how to get started on essential next steps to build a culture of evaluation.

Throughout, participants will explore how equity, transparency, grantee engagement and other essential values can manifest in the evaluation processes they design.

Intended Outcomes

Upon completing the training and workshops, you will be better able to:

  • Consider core questions – like who cares and what for? – when it comes to your foundation’s evaluation practice
  • Identify the underlying values and mission elements that undergird your foundation’s work and your evaluation approach
  • Understand the ecosystem in which your foundation’s evaluation practice exists
  • Build “if/then” models articulating what you expect to happen as a result of your funding practices
  • Hone in on the set of questions you want your foundation’s evaluation approach to answer and consider how different evaluation methodologies lend themselves toward answering those questions
  • Identify opportunities for data collection within “everyday” foundation processes, as well as how to create space and learn from evaluation findings to improve your foundation’s practice
  • Develop next steps for how to approach evaluation of your work, including how and when to engage colleagues to make evaluation more effective

Designed for

Any foundation professionals responsible for aligning the foundation’s funding and programs with its mission who have the influence or oversight to influence change within their foundations.  This may include program officers, VP’s of Program and COO’s or CEO’s. Participants should have at least 2-3 years of experience in their role as a program officer, strategy officer or operations officer. The program is designed to orient experienced professional staff with limited or no evaluation expertise so they can more successfully engage in evaluation processes. This program is not intended to teach the basics of evaluating grantee programs.

This is a cohort-based series open to Philanthropy New York Members onlyWe register a group of participants that agree to attend all three sessions, as each program’s learning outcomes build on the next session


Philanthropy New York piloted the program in the spring of 2019. We plan to offer it every 12 - 18 months and will announce to our members when applications are available for the next offering.

If you have additional questions, please contact Kathryn O'Neal-Dunham, Chief Executive Officer.