Process Complexity and Evaluation Utility


Andrew Johnson, William Penn Foundation
Helen Davis Picher, William Penn Foundation
Peter Szabo, Bloomingdale Management Advisors


In 2005, the William Penn Foundation evaluated its land protection grantmaking efforts. At the time, the Foundation made one-year block grants to individual land conservation organizations for priority land protection projects in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. By 2011, the Foundation transformed its approach, making a $5.5 million capital fund and technical assistance grant to an intermediary organization to competitively select and protect priority areas within two signature landscapes in the region. Using this case as an example, the session will explore why some evaluations lead to significant changes in strategy and program process and others do not. In particular, the session will explore crucial process complexities which can influence an evaluation’s utility, such as:

• Timing of evaluation;
• How evaluation questions are developed;
• Dynamics between central players
• Evaluation sponsor, client, subjects, and consultant;
• Who is involved in design and management of evaluation;
• Factors that increase or decrease evaluation client’s willingness to participate in and listen to results of evaluation.

Presentation Materials

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