Learning in the flow of working – Learning and evaluation in trusts and foundations during Covid-19

Evaluation Roundtable Community of Practice Briefing

We have seen a growing appetite to make Covid-19 a transformational moment, enabling the learning function to inform, support and underpin a more agile and collaborative approach, resisting the ‘snap back into calcified, inflexible systems’. The convening of the Evaluation Roundtable in December 2020 saw the start of important conversations about how to make this aspiration a reality: ‘How do we use this moment as a catalyst – not just individually but collectively – to shift the relationship between funders and funded organisations?’.

Our first round of meetings of the Community of Practice for 2021 focused on returning learning to the system, in particular the mechanisms that are set up in our institutions to enable learning to flow back to the system to enable action, ‘so that it’s not stuck in one head and everybody can benefit’. How well do they support agility and experimentation? Do they value and make good use of different kinds of learning – both formal and informal? What gets in the way of good learning? This briefing draws on the contributions of 19 learning and evaluation staff from 17 foundations, and offers our reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.

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