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In philanthropy, evaluation is defined rather broadly as the systematic gathering of information and research about grantmaker-supported activities. Evaluation is used by grantmakers, and Irvine in particular, to measure the effect of the activities supported by their grantmaking, to demonstrate results and to help illuminate effective strategies for achieving those results.

Evaluation advances our mission in four ways:

  • It informs our work — Evaluations provide knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, thus enhancing our programmatic efforts and informing our decisions.
  • It improves understanding in philanthropy — Evaluations allow our colleagues to benefit from our grantees' experiences and improvements.
  • It demonstrates accountability and transparency — Evaluations allow others to hold us accountable and understand our work by providing a direct source of information about the impact of our grantmaking.
  • It strengthens organizations — Evaluation helps our grantees identify, sustain and improve promising practices. This makes them stronger and more effective by encouraging self-reflection and organizational improvement.

Most of our grantmaking initiatives include rigorous evaluation procedures. We also conduct an annual foundation-wide assessment to measure our progress against our organizational goals.

The Evaluation section of our website covers the following topics:

  • Our Approach — Evaluation can take many forms and several principles help guide us in designing evaluations.
  • Program Evaluations — Detailed evaluation plans or findings are available for most of our current and recent grantmaking initiatives.
  • Foundation-wide Assessment — Irvine developed a framework to assess its progress against its institutional goals, resulting in our Annual Performance Reports.
  • Tools and Resources — A variety of evaluation-focused publications, organizations and resources shed light on the ways in which evaluations can be designed and used effectively.

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Glass Pockets is an initiative of the Foundation Center designed to promote online transparency and accountability among large private foundations. Click on the icon below to see how Irvine rates in terms of best practices.

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