Our Evaluation Philosophy and Approach
The Skillman Foundation views evaluation as an important component of the learning and innovation process. This approach is guided by a set of principles or values about the role of evaluation, namely that it should be:
- integrated in the work (not a stand-alone activity)
- embedded in the Foundation’s systems and structure (board, management team, staff)
- an ongoing, collective responsibility (not a discrete, outsourced function)
- participatory and collaborative (increasing stakeholder commitment and utilization of results)
- flexible and dynamic (responsive to the realities of implementation)
- culturally and technically competent
- operating within an organizational culture that values transparency, critical inquiry and learning
Our evaluation approach is three-pronged and involves the Foundation’s program and evaluation staff, grant partners and external evaluators. All efforts are designed to support program quality, assess progress, provide information for strategic refinements and ultimately assess the outcomes of the work.
1. Evaluation of individual strategies using a developmental or formative evaluation approach working with external evaluators paired with program staff.
This format provides “just-in time” data to support rapid assessment of key strands of the work. This evaluation approach supports adaptation of strategy to respond to emergent and dynamic realities in complex environments. The evaluators are part of the team that collaborates to conceptualize, design and test new approaches in an ongoing process of development and experimentation.
2. Performance Monitoring via goals and dashboard, complementing a results-based accountability frame.
The Foundation’s work is guided and measured against a set of goals. Core grant partners systematically provide output and outcome data and program staff have responsibility for monitoring grant partner performance. Building the data capacity of core partners is an essential component of the work because the ability to collect and use data for program improvement and to demonstrate outcomes is a critical capacity for scaling and attracting investments.
3. Foundation outcome evaluation, conducted by independent external evaluators under the direction of the director of evaluation and learning.