Overcoming Obstacles to Evaluation Use: Perspectives from Donors and Evaluators

Session Number: 2706
Track: Use and Influence of Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: use
Session Chair: Danielle C. de Garcia, MPA, CPT [Program Director, Performance Evaluation, Innovation, and Learning - Social Impact, Inc.]
Presenter 1: Barry Burciul [Manager, Evaluation and Learning - The MasterCard Foundation]
Presenter 2: Danielle C. de Garcia, MPA, CPT [Program Director, Performance Evaluation, Innovation, and Learning - Social Impact, Inc.]
Presenter 3: Melissa Patsalides [Director, Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research - USAID]
Presenter 4: Shawna Hoffman [Measurement and Evaluation Specialist - The Rockefeller Foundation]
Presenter 5: Kelly Skeith [Senior Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist - Freedom House]
Time: Nov 08, 2017 (06:15 PM - 07:15 PM)
Room: Delaware A

Abstract 1 Title: Learning Partnerships as a Vehicle for Use
Presentation Abstract 1:

The MasterCard Foundation funds programming aimed at promoting secondary and tertiary education, youth livelihoods, and financial inclusion, primarily in Africa. Our preferred approach to learning in the context of large, multi-stakeholder programs is the “learning partnership,” in which the Foundation and its implementing partners work with external evaluators and researchers throughout the program lifecycle. In this panel, we will share reflections on the design and operational considerations that bear on the ability of learning partnerships to deliver actionable learning to stakeholders at all levels.

Abstract 2 Title: Driving Use from the Outside: A Provider's Perspective
Presentation Abstract 2:

Social Impact is an evaluation provider and recently began implementing a system to increase the likelihood of evaluation use and to track that use. While the implementation of a more structured, use-focused process has had a number of additional benefits and anecdotally has worked well to promote use; we continue to encounter challenges in tracing the impact of our work. In this panel, we will discuss some of the steps implemented to promote use with our clients and internally within our teams; as well as the tools and challenges encountered in tracking evaluation use. 

Abstract 3 Title: Increasing Demand for Use: A Donor Perspective
Presentation Abstract 3:

Established by President John. F. Kennedy in 1961, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) furthers America's interests while improving lives in the developing world by promoting broad-scale human progress, expanding stable, free societies, and creating markets and trade partners for the United States. USAID’s Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research works to build staff capacity to plan for, manage and use evaluations for learning and accountability. In this panel, we will share our experience in promoting the use of evaluations to learn what works and to adapt programs to better achieve results.

Abstract 4 Title: Measurement Strategies for Use
Presentation Abstract 4:

Committed to supporting learning, accountability and performance improvements, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Monitoring and Evaluation Team works with staff, grantees and partners to monitor and evaluate the Foundation’s pathways to impact in the short- and long-term, and to capture lessons about what works and what doesn’t across the Foundation’s diverse portfolio. Insight and evidence generated through evaluation is used specifically to:

  • Enable adaptive management and performance improvement of early-stage initiative implementation,
  • Build the evidence base to substantiate the value proposition of our work,
  • Support learning, and
  • Ensure downward and upward accountability

Given that M&E data informs the next course of action at each stage of implementation – especially in the transition between Foundation initiative phases – and is also used to drive scalability, sustainability and effective exit, during this panel we will share what we have learned about the critical role a measurement strategy plays in ensuring effective evaluation use.

Abstract 5 Title: Use with Limited Resources: an Implementer's Perspective
Presentation Abstract 5:

Freedom House is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of democracy, human rights, and freedom worldwide. In addition to research and advocacy, we have 13 field offices that support DRG programs. We strive to effectively monitor and evaluate our programs and are developing systems to ensure utilization of findings and recommendations; however still encounter challenges. Some of the barriers include the nature of public donor grants that come with their own requirements and purposes, difficulty conducting credible evaluations in fragile and closed or closing environments, and a lack of time or capacity for staff to adequately absorb and use the evaluations. Freedom House will discuss the challenges we face across regions and thematic areas of work, ways we mitigate the issues and promoting evaluation use, and learn from a discussion with audience participants about ways we as a community can promote evaluation use despite limited funds and resources.

Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

It’s a simple concept: evaluations should be used to inform decision making. Yet despite increasing emphasis on utilization and the prevalence of literature on the topic, we continue to have challenges ensuring that use occurs. Tracking use has proven difficult as well, causing difficulties in identifying barriers and enablers to use in a tangible way. How can we work towards increasing the likelihood of evaluation use? How can we better track the use and influence of evaluations? A variety of public and private donors and evaluation implementers will present their perspectives on answers to these questions.