(Hallie Preskill, Managing Director at FSG Philanthropy Advisors, recently wrote a transparency-focused call to action in “State of the Work,” a just-released report from the D5 coalition - a five-year effort to increase diversity in philanthropy. Given the focus on transparency, we are cross-posting her thoughts here. The new report focuses on how the philanthropic field can increase its diversity, advance equity, and improve its inclusiveness.)
As a long time evaluator who has been deeply committed to using evaluation findings, I am excited when I hear that foundations are looking to be more “transparent” in the ways they do their work, the decisions they make, and what they learn from their evaluation efforts.
Yet, I don’t see much evidence that many are truly embracing this idea of transparency when it comes to sharing evaluation findings and other types of grantmaking data.
While there are many reasons organizations may be hesitant about sharing evaluation results, a true learning organization will understand that with any good evaluation, there are important insights and lessons that deserve to be shared both internally and externally. A learning organization also knows that a good evaluation must start with sound data on who the organization is trying to impact and the contexts in which they operate, including data related to demographics.
This doesn’t mean foundations have to publicize mean scores, quotes from those interviewed, or volumes of evaluation findings. Instead, it means being committed to collecting relevant, credible, and useful information that is strategically informative; being open to sharing what was learned from engaging in the evaluation process in ways that that help others think about their own work more critically; growing and adapting their practices to be more effective; and finding ways to achieve greater social impact. When evaluation and research activities and findings are made transparent, they can be a powerful catalyst for facilitating individual, group, organization, community, and field learning.
The 2013 “State of the Work” profiles the many leaders across the country who are taking important steps toward diversity and inclusion, and outlines the lessons these leaders have learned. The report offers suggestions for determining how diversity, equity, and inclusion can help increase effectiveness—and provides concrete ideas for how to translate those values into action. Featuring insights from executives of the American Express Foundation, the Baltimore Community Foundation, Access Strategies Fund, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Capek Consulting, Russell Family Foundation, and FSG, the report lays the groundwork for a more diverse sector going forward. The complete report can be found at http://www.d5coalition.org/tools/state-of-the-work-2013/.