News
  • 28 Mar 2014

First UK Evaluation Roundtable held

The first ever UK Evaluation Roundtable was jointly run by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research and the Center for Evaluation Innovation on 25 and 26 March. The event brought together grant-makers to discuss how to make better use of evaluation. The participants were members of staff from 24 organisations, including PHF’s Head of Impact and Evaluation, Jane Steele, and Head of Education and Learning, Denise Barrows.

The Evaluation Roundtable concept originally emerged in the US almost 25 years ago. It provides a space in which grant-making organisations can share their knowledge and experience. A key part of the Roundtable is the development and discussion of a chronological account of the unfolding of a particular evaluation, which includes the perspectives of the different players involved. It provides an opportunity for foundations to come together to learn about what is and is not working in the use of evaluation.

The central theme of the discussion was the relationship between evaluation and strategy. Delegates looked at the different decisions involved in managing evaluations and the challenges in using data in adapting your work. The Roundtable hopes that, by improving the way we apply learning to decisions about strategy, this will ultimately help grant-makers to increase the difference they make.

The meeting focused on a case study of the evaluation of Learning Away, a PHF Special Initiative that encourages schools to provide residential learning experiences. Insights were shared from people who worked on the project in different capacities, reflecting the Foundation’s belief that being as open and transparent as possible will strengthen the sector.

Jane Steele said of the event: “The Evaluation Roundtable was an important step towards greater understanding of evaluation and better practice throughout the sector. It was really valuable to be able to discuss our real-life evaluation experience with so many other funders”

With the Foundation currently working on a new strategy, the insights gained from the roundtable will be useful to stimulate our thinking as we work towards finalising our strategy later this year.