Evaluation covers a broad range of activities:
Performance management e.g. reporting and monitoring
- Strategic learning
Here, the term is used to represent the suite of foundations’ evaluation related activities focusing on the use of, and demand for, evaluative information rather than solely on evaluation.
The Evaluation Roundtable is a network of foundation leaders in the UK, the US and Canada. The Roundtable aims to improve evaluative practice in foundations by infusing it with cutting-edge ideas, and by providing foundation staff with an opportunity to refine and deepen their thinking and practice.
It is a resource for information on what other foundations are doing, as well as for ideas about where and how foundations might develop their practice. The Roundtable is uniquely positioned to help experienced evaluation leaders refine their practice and consider how evaluation’s role, positioning, and focus within a foundation might best be designed.
Who is the Roundtable for?
Leaders in evaluation, including CEOs, directors of evaluation, learning or impact, senior programme and grants officers with the authority to effect change in their organisations.
Learning & development
We run twice-yearly seminars with facilitated discussions on a range of activities including; performance and knowledge management, and organisational and strategic learning.
Each seminar focuses on a specific theme and one or more members share a teaching case related to an experience within their organisation.
Participants share and generate insights that help them to manage evaluation within their organisation more effectively. Collectively they will also be contributing to developing evaluation practice within the sector.
How do grantees benefit?
The focus of improving evaluation within foundations should always be on the benefits it will bring to grantees, in terms of strengthening the impact of their activities and helping to capture learning in a way that is mindful of grantees’ own time and capacity.
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation: learning in responsive grant-making
Around 20 trustees, current and former staff and grantees of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation agreed to be interviewed for a teaching case telling the story of how the Foundation has developed its approach to, and use of, learning over the past 15 years.
April 2016: Commissioning Evaluation
May 2017: How to be a learning organisation
January 2019: Making Learning Everyday
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s Insights Report
Following the May 2017 event, Esmée Fairbairn published an insights report ‘Learning from our grants’.
read the report
23 July 2019
What does 'learning' mean for UK Trusts and Foundations?
What is it like to hear how others perceive your approach to learning? Pears Foundation and Corra Foundation reflect on the experience of sharing detailed case studies of their distinct approaches at the UK Evaluation Roundtable in January 2019.
18 October 2017
What it's like to be under the microscope
Gina Crane | Communications and Learning Manager at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Gina shares what it's like to be under the microscope as the subject of the Evaluation Roundtable's Teaching Case, which she describes as 'a ‘warts and all’ case study of a real evaluation'.
01 September 2016
Building a culture & structure for learning
At Pears Foundation, we place a strong emphasis on learning: both on our own learning, and the learning of our partners. It sits at the heart of our funding model, to 'commit, learn and refine', as well as supporting and informing the long-term, core-funding relationships that make up the majority of our giving.
How do you measure up? Finding fit between foundations and their evaluation functions.
Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer, Center for Evaluation Innovation, USA
read the article
5-A-Day: Learning by force of habit
Julia Coffman, Center for Evaluation Innovation, USA
read the article
How to get involved
If you are interested in attending our
roundtable events please email:
Attendance is by invitation only but we warmly encourage you to get in touch.
Improving Evaluation Design
Ben Cairns, Katie Turner
This paper, produced for the Evaluation Roundtable event on 27th April 2016, offers a practical resource for foundation staff in assessing and/or improving their processes for the design stage of commissioning external evaluations.
What does it mean to be a learning organisation?
The third convening of the UK Evaluation Roundtable network took place in May 2017 with the theme of learning in responsive grant-making. In preparation, we carried out a review of the literature on what it means to be a learning organisation.
Read the literature review
Evaluation Within UK Trusts and Foundations
Tanya Beer, Ben Cairns, Julia Coffman, Rebecca Moran
This report presents the first ever picture of evaluation within larger trusts and foundations in the UK.
A big thank you to those who contribute funding and their time throughout the year and to CCLA for hosting Roundtable events.
Learn more about IVAR