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Learning in

How can the new skills and observations from the pandemic feed into how foundations and trusts approach their learning and evaluation?


One year on from our learning through lockdown series, participants from the Evaluation Roundtable share reflections of how they learn and evaluate in continued uncertainty.


Tanya Beer, IVAR associate, kicks off the series by sharing five learning habits that can help learning organisations embed learning into their routines.



Learning needs to help us create just enough solid footing to take the next wise action, detect and sense what’s happening as a result, and inform a course correction fairly quickly.


Tanya Beer, IVAR associate


3. Combating our biases

Combating biases means bringing data and multiple perspectives to the table to help prevent our brains from getting trapped in old and easy thinking, which is even more likely when we are stressed.

1. Making our thinking visible

We need to make our hypotheses and assumptions visible so that others can push, test, disagree, deepen, and offer alternatives.

4. Exploring the cause/effect relationship

Many spend all their energy capturing data to describe what has happened (results) without understanding why.  Only with an understanding of  “why” can we generate insights about how to make change going forward.

2. Asking powerful questions

Powerful questions get to the heart of strategy dilemmas and help us focus on translating insight and past wisdom into energising ideas for moving forward.

5. Answering the “now what” question

We often stop at generating lessons learned without application to what’s next, repeating past mistakes. Always asking and answering the “now what” question helps propel insights into action.


Profile picture of Donna Buxton.

15 October 2021

Supporting a dynamic learning agenda across City Bridge Trust: Our present, vision and direction

Donna Buxton - City Bridge Trust

In the second blog from our learning in uncertainty blog series, Donna Buxton from City Bridge Trust (CBT) reflects on how the pandemic has influenced the development of their Impact and Learning Strategy.

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Profile picture of Shoshana Boyd Gelfand of Pears Foundation.

08 October 2021

Covid made us all into “learning organisations”

Shoshana Boyd Gelfand - Pears Foundation

In the first blog of our learning in uncertainty series, Shoshana Boyd Gelfand reflects on what it means to be a learning organisation and how we might incorporate the new skills developed during the pandemic and embrace disequilibrium, to become lifelong learners.

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Blog series: Learning through lockdown

September 2020

How do you learn when everything is in a state of flux? Learning and ideas on how to put learning at the heart of foundations’ responses to Covid-19 from participants of the Evaluation Roundtable Community of Practice – with a summary blog from IVAR on how learning informs decision-making. 

04 February 2020

Becoming a learning organisation - learning as a set of small, easy to introduce, habits

Tanya Beer & Irit Houvras

In our first Letter from America blog, Tanya Beer (Center for Evaluation Innovation) shares the theory behind their ‘learning organisation’ method and we talk to Irit Houvras (American Jewish World Service) about introducing 'learning habits' to her organisation.

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