External Evaluation Advisory Committee Scoping Project

“In 2010, Patrizi Associates released the findings from its study of 30‐some foundations with a history of strong evaluation use. The study bench marked foundation practices regarding evaluation functions, responsibilities and how evaluation resources are deployed. The researchers found that demand across foundations is increasing for all evaluative services and products. However, use of evaluation information is most problematic when programs and strategies are “ongoing.” Additionally, most evaluation directors reporting to program expressed greater dissatisfaction with program use of evaluative information and felt their management and board were less supportive of evaluation than those reporting to the CEO or an administrator.
For many years now, foundations have “struggled mightily”iii with the structure of the evaluation director position and how best to embrace evaluation as an integral part of effective strategy development and grantmaking within their institutions. One well‐regarded evaluation consultant notes, “There is no one model that appears to consistently work…There’s something (in the way), a person thing or a structure thing; they don’t have any power or don’t exercise power, they’re not at the decision‐making table.”The Patrizi Associates study summed up its findings: “This is not just an evaluation issue, but an organizational challenge requiring the commitment of evaluation, program and management.” In light of these challenges, there is an opportunity to explore other possible means to help foundations deepen their use of evaluative information to inform strategy and increase a culture of learning throughout their organizations. For the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the key question is: “Other than changing reporting, grant control, or strategy control, is there some way to best balance the implicit power dynamic between programs and evaluation through using some kind of external evaluation advisory committee structure?”





The David and Lucile Packard Foundation


Melinda Tuan


February 14, 2012

Media Type:



Impact Measurement