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Integrating Evaluation & Learning in Foundations Amidst Organizational Changes (Eval 2015, Session 1289) 

11-10-2015 17:45

Jamie Schenker, The California Wellness Foundation Rosanna Tran, The California HealthCare Foundation Session Abstract: Executive leadership transitions, establishing and implementing new strategies, and changes in organizational structure are a part of all foundations’ lifecycles. However, according to a 2013 article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, more and more foundations have experienced these types of changes in recent years. The California HealthCare Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation are two such examples. Both organizations have taken these changes as opportunities to refresh their approaches to – and strengthen the connection between – evaluation and organizational learning. Although at different phases of change, both foundations have learned valuable lessons from their experiences so far, which will be shared in this presentation along with an overview of the foundations’ overall approaches to evaluation and learning. This session will be relevant to other organizations seeking to build, strengthen, or integrate their evaluation & learning functions amidst big change, and organizations seeking to foster a culture of learning and inquiry. Abstract 1: The Evolution of Evaluation & Learning at the California HealthCare Foundation Presentation Abstract 1: This presentation will describe the California Health Care Foundation’s (CHCF’s) evolving perspective on evaluation & learning, as well as lessons learned since it began to refine its approach under a new executive team in 2014. While CHCF has had a long-standing evaluation function, a refreshed strategy and organizational structure that emphasize foundation-wide goals and accountability for measurable impact provide an opportunity to further strengthen its evaluation & learning practice. In particular, CHCF hopes to move from a learning approach that is largely retrospective to one that is ongoing; from evaluating individual grants and projects to evaluating strategy and bodies of work; and from individual learning to cross-program learning. In addition, the Learning & Evaluation team is seeking ways to further integrate its efforts not only with programs, but also with other foundation functions such as communications, grants administration, and talent management. Abstract 2: Evaluation and Organizational Learning 2.0: A Refresh at The California Wellness Foundation Presentation Abstract 2: In 2014, at the end of a strategic planning process and after welcoming a new President/CEO, The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) set out to design a new evaluation framework. Evaluation and organizational learning (EOL) had always been a priority at Cal Wellness; however it was time for a refresh for a few reasons. Cal Wellness’ approach to evaluation was largely retrospective, missing the opportunity to make course corrections to grantmaking strategies. The Foundation did not utilize methods of tracking and setting goals, missing the opportunity to capture major achievements or challenges. Finally, EOL was not incorporated into the entire Foundation, missing opportunities for learning and cross-departmental collaboration. Foundation staff are implementing a new evaluation framework while in the first year of a new grantmaking program. This presentation will describe Cal Wellness’ new approach to evaluation.

#learning #foundations #philanthropy #OrganizationalLearningandEvalCapacityBuilding #Strategy #organizationalchange #Non-ProfitsandFoundationsEvaluation #2015Conference

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