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Tom Kelly on Evaluation and Philanthropy

Hello, I’m Tom Kelly and I have been supporting and managing evaluation investments and capacity-building since 1999 at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national philanthropy focused on achieving better outcomes for America’s most vulnerable children and families. Although I began my evaluation career 10 years before that working on evaluations of federal and state demonstration programs, my role now is one of evaluation trainer, coach, coordinator, facilitator, investor, and more often translator and broker between foundation program offices and evaluators.

Hot Tip: There are now more than 100,000 private, operating, family, and community foundations in the US. And my first-stop source for data and information on philanthropy is The Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy http://www.urban.org/center/cnp/ , including their National Center for Charitable Statistics http://nccs.urban.org/.

Rad Resource: The Ford Foundation’s GrantCraft is a library of tools and resources on grantmaking, including a series on evaluation. The next time you have a foundation client who might need some extra evaluation capacity-building point them to the evaluation resources at GrantCraft http://www.grantcraft.org/ and their Evaluation Series (see the sidebar).

Rad Resource: Good evaluators have a responsibility to educate their clients about evaluation (and it certainly makes our job easier with an informed client) and two great resources are “When and How to Use External Evaluators” http://www.irvine.org/assets/pdf/evaluation/when_how_external_evaluator.pdf and, of course, the AEA Guiding Principles http://www.eval.org/GPTraining/GPTrainingOverview.asp

Rad Resource: Although it is impossible to keep track of 100k foundations, I definitely feel like I know what is going in the field by following key bloggers in philanthropy. And the issues, challenges, and experiences of measurement, evaluation, data, and return on investment are all common topics:

1 thought on “Tom Kelly on Evaluation and Philanthropy”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I agree that as practioners it is important for us to understand the issues and conversations that are occuring in the sectors which most “consume” our efforts. This clearly includes philanthropy as well as in the social/non profit sector. Suggestions on what to track on the latter?

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