18 January 2023

Incorporating Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning for foundations with the Organisational Development Community of Practice

As it is a topic that many foundations recognise as being essential to their work, especially when considering Organisational Development (OD) support, the Organisational Development Community of Practice convened online on 29 November to zoom in on the topic of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL). Many funders wish to incorporate learnings from various evaluations, however, MEL frameworks can vary from grantmaker to grantmaker. To help provide the group with one example of how such an evaluation can be undertaken, the session provided space for colleagues from Ford Foundation, Victoria Dunning, Program Officer, Building Institutions and Networks and Patrick Kenani, Program Associate, Building Institutions and Networks, to present on the evaluation and learning of the BUILD programme. Since one of the three core principles of the BUILD programme concerns core support for institutional funding, this served as a good case study for the Community of Practice.

Laurah Kamau, Grants Manager, Porticus and Adriana Craciun, Senior Adviser – Capacity Building and Organisational Development, Oak Foundation, shared some reflections on the topic to help set the scene. They shared what form MEL currently takes in the provision of OD support at their respective organisations, as well as sharing some of the challenges and this provided an opening for Victoria and Patrick to begin their presentation on the evaluation and learning of the BUILD programme.

To begin with, they revisited the basics of the BUILD programme including: its theory of change, long term goal and some key numbers. Victoria then continued by presenting the evaluation approach that was taken for the first edition of the BUILD Programme. This includes explaining the developmental approach that was taken, as well as the evaluation partner (NIRAS) that was chosen due to their non-linear, iterative approach. As well as explaining the evaluation design, Victoria went through some of the guiding learning questions. Data sources for the evaluation included case studies, a full cohort survey as well as a grantee perception report. Finally, evaluating a programme like BUILD is complex in nature, and requires finding and operationalising what certain terms mean and how they could be illustrated. Terms such as organisational and financial resilience were given for the participants in the room.

Patrick then moved on from this detailed explanation of the approach that was taken by Ford Foundation, the case study of the session, to present various results from the evaluation BUILD Programme 1.0. This included sharing that the findings support BUILD’s theory of change, that strengthening institutions and networks leads to improved programming and impact. Various other data points were presented, including those indicated by the grantees of the programme. Patrick then talked on the longitudinal evaluation approach that has been adopted for the second edition of the BUILD Programme (2.0). This will allow Ford Foundation to evaluate and assess the impact of BUILD support over a time.

After the elaborate presentation, participants from the Community of Practice were then provided with an opportunity to ask questions to Victoria and Patrick as well as share some of their insights from their own respective foundations.


Daniel Spiers
Programme Manager – Peer-Exchanges & Knowledge