There are many ways to conduct an evaluation.
While we monitor the progress of every grant, we conduct more extensive evaluations of our program initiatives. Our program staff determines the appropriate approach for each evaluation based on a variety of factors, including the particular type of activities, set of grantees, level of funding, and stage-of-life for the initiative being evaluated.
The following principles guide our evaluation design:
- Evaluations should inform organizational and program decisions and be integrated into our planning processes.
- Evaluations and programs are more effective if you have clear goals and a theory about how to reach them.
- Where appropriate, evaluation should be participatory and collaborative. We aim to involve grantees in evaluation planning and implementation so that they better understand and commit to the process.
- Evaluations should measure progress toward the accomplishment of clear, measurable goals, but they also should increase understanding about the impact of specific activities and processes.
- Evaluation designs should consider the intended use of the evaluation by the Foundation, the grantees, and others who could learn from it.
Irvine usually contracts with external evaluators. In cases where specialized research skills are not needed, Irvine staff conduct the evaluations. These evaluations may include site visits, observation, interviews, surveys, review of grantee reports and dissemination of findings.
Our Evaluation Policies and Guidelines (PDF, 33 KB) provide more detail about the broader purpose and role of evaluation at Irvine, what criteria we use for undertaking evaluations and how our program staff is involved in evaluation activities.