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 partnership between IVAR and the Center for Evaluation Innovation. It offers independent trusts and foundations an opportunity to gather and reflect on the design, development and use of different approaches to evaluation and learning.
Taking place every 18 months, each convening begins with a ‘teaching case’, allowing participants to explore a particular theme to understand implications for learning and practice development. Participants have challenged one another to think more deeply and concretely about how grant makers can engage in learning and increase their ability, and that of grantees and partners, to achieve the results they seek.
The Evaluation Roundtable now includes a number of different elements to support individuals on their learning journeys.
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.
Resources for Learning
We will publish teaching cases and other resources here to support learning across the sector.
A quarterly ‘Letters from America’ blog series will share leading edge thinking from the US Evaluation Roundtable network about the role, contribution and practices of independent funders.
Community of Practice
The Evaluation Roundtable Community of Practice provides a forum for individuals who lead on learning, evaluation or monitoring and impact to share and support each other with the particular challenges of holding responsibility for organisational learning.
Chairs and CEOs Workshops
These workshops bring together UK Trust and Foundation Chairs and Chief Executives to explore what it means to lead
a learning organisation and ‘make learning everyday’.
Piecing a story together
Ben Cairns, Houda Davis, Liz Firth
Covid-19 is changing the funding world like nothing before it. This briefing shares how evaluation and learning staff are supporting their foundations through the immediate crisis and with questions about what all this means for the future.
Evaluation Roundtable: Follow up report from 2019 convening
Ben Cairns, Liz Firth
This paper summarises discussions and key points from the 2019 Evaluation Roundtable convening which focused on 'Making Learning Everyday'.
UK Evaluation Roundtable Teaching Cases 2019
Ben Cairns, Liz Firth
Produced for the January 2019 convening of the UK Evaluation Roundtable, here are two case studies – of Pears Foundation and Corra Foundation – on their approaches to ‘making learning everyday’, along with notes for how to use the teaching cases to support reflection and learning in other organisations.
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation: learning in responsive grant-making
Around 20 trustees, staff and grantees of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation were interviewed for a teaching case telling the story of how the Foundation developed its approach to, and use of, learning over the past 15 years.
January 2019: Making Learning Everyday
September 2020: Making Learning Everyday – aligning purpose with process
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s Insights Report
Following the May 2017 event, Esmée Fairbairn published an insights report ‘Learning from our grants’.
read the report
The roundtable presented an excellent opportunity to reflect critically on evaluation practice within my own organisation, and gain a better understanding of how other organisations were approaching evaluation.”
04 February 2020
Becoming a learning organisation - learning as a set of small, easy to introduce, habits
Tanya Beer & Irit Houvras
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.
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