Learning and evaluation

The question is “what can we do better?”, not “what is the right answer?”

To be the best they can be, and make the best use of their precious assets, foundations need to be thoughtful and reflective. Which is why learning – and being a ‘learning organisation’ – is critical: balancing data with intuition; combining evidence with instinct.

At IVAR, we champion learning as a driving force for foundation strategy and practice through the UK Evaluation Roundtable. We believe that making good grants and investing in learning are not alternatives – they go hand in hand.

Learning is not an add on, it’s integral and essential.

By ‘learning’, we mean ‘not monitoring, not impact assessment, not log frames, not descriptive reports, but proper focused consideration of truly mission-critical questions – about both strategy and practice – which lead to action’.

Spaces and resources for learning with IVAR

1. Evaluation Roundtable Community of Practice

We facilitate sessions for foundation staff responsible for evaluation and learning to share and learn from each other’s experiences, and resolve practical challenges and dilemmas.

2. Evaluation Roundtable learning materials

We publish briefings, blogs, teaching cases and other materials to support the adoption and enhancement of learning.


3. Learning with individual foundations

We carry out and publish reviews to support the development of strategic learning and learning governance.

1. Evaluation Roundtable Community of Practice

IVAR Briefings

Briefings on how to put learning at the heart of foundations’ responses to Covid-19 and beyond.

Blogs: Learning in uncertainty

Blogs by foundation staff on learning in uncertainty.

Blogs: Learning through lockdown

Blogs by foundation staff on learning through the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns.

Find out more

If you are interested in attending our Roundtable events or want to find out more, please contact Houda Davis at: houda@ivar.org.uk. Attendance is by invitation only, but we encourage you to get in touch.

2. Evaluation Roundtable learning materials

Teaching Cases

In-depth case studies of learning in specific foundations

Improving Evaluation Design

A practical resource to improve processes for the design of external evaluations

Center for Evaluation Innovation Resources

We support existing partnerships to make changes at the system level

3. Learning with individual foundations

You may also be interested in…

Learning with trust, trusting what we learn

Evaluation Roundtable briefing June 2023

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Giving learning a seat at the board table

An Evaluation Roundtable Briefing – June 2022

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Ben Cairns
Joined at the hip: Why you can’t make good grants without investing in learning
Read more Blog

With thanks to Justlife and Damien Rosser/Eden Project Communities for the photos used on this page.

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