Working together, foundations and evaluators can contribute to global transformation necessary to address the world's most pressing problems.
Funders and evaluators based primarily in the US and Canada have been collaborating on shared priorities through the Funder and Evaluator Affinity Network (FEAN) since 2017. The goal of FEAN is to change the relationship between funders and evaluators from a transactional one to a partnership, shifting the field of philanthropic evaluation to become fairer, more equitable, and more effective. In 2019, the conversation expanded to consider issues of interest to FEAN members working in the international arena.
The vision inspiring this paper is one in which North American foundations and evaluators can make significant contributions to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as allies with people across the globe whose lives are most closely impacted by pressing challenges including climate change, migration, pandemics, growing authoritarianism, disparities and instabilities, and the depletion of critical resources.
The recommendations outlined in this paper are a starting point, an invitation to both reflection and action. We explore how foundations and evaluators can nurture and grow a robust, inclusive ecosystem of what we are calling evaluation for global transformation (EGT). Such an ecosystem is necessary to co-create the paths by which funders and evaluators can catalyze innovative thinking and undertake coordinated action with others in support of global transformation.
The working paper takes a critical look at the current state of EGT and what it will take to position evaluation to advance effective, equitable and sustainable global transformation efforts. It begins with defining global transformation and its importance, describing the ways in which global development is evolving, and the growing role that philanthropy is playing within this arena.
Next, it lays out an analysis of the current state of evaluation and resulting recommendations, building from conversations that took place among members of the Funder and Evaluator Affinity Network during 2019.