Learning As We Go: Living Our Values Through Evaluation

August 3, 2020 Perspectives

Chantell Johnson, Managing Director of Evaluation, shares our commitment to evaluation, transparency, and informed decision making.

MacArthur’s Staff, President, and Board have been on a journey to ensure that what we fund and how we fund it aligns with effective and responsible philanthropy and the values outlined in our Just Imperative. Staff have shaped how they work to realize these values, and teams have been called upon to look for ways to live, convey, and articulate the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion implicitly and explicitly.

We do expect grantees to hold us accountable and to hold ourselves accountable for living our values through evaluation.

In particular, the Office of Evaluation has translated the values of the Just Imperative into a series of principles and commitments that guide our work. One of the most challenging elements of this work is recognizing the power and privileging of knowledge that is inherent in the philanthropic sector. We aim to recognize and combat this inherent challenge through a commitment to transparency and informed decision making in our programmatic work. So staff work to ensure that our internal programmatic decision making is reliable, consistent, inclusive, generative, fair, and learning-focused across our programmatic areas.

From the initial design of a program area or strategy, and through our ongoing work with evaluation and learning partners toward a strategy review, we gather input and feedback from a range of perspectives and sources, using myriad methods. We engage grantees to provide feedback around our strategies, our plans for evaluation, and the evaluation findings. Further, we ensure that our work and thinking behind it is available on our website, shared with grantees, and available to the broader public (often through Candid).




To ensure that our efforts on informed decision making are broadly accessible, widely available, and transparent, the Office of Evaluation will share through a series of Perspectives pieces our thinking on who or what gets evaluated, how we keep our strategies dynamic and responsive, how we engage our Board, what grantees can expect, and how we ensure justice and equity in our evaluation, to name a few.

With a 42-year history and an effort to redefine how we work that started in 2015, we do not expect every grantee to have experienced the Foundation in the same way. We do expect grantees to hold us accountable and to hold ourselves accountable for living our values through evaluation. That said, we hope to describe how we are working in our current, ongoing areas of work. We invite feedback as we recognize that we are designing, building, doing, and learning as we go.


More Perspectives on Evaluation ›