The Foundation concluded operations on December 31, 2020. Learn more.

Strategy and Evaluation: The Twin Engines of Effective Philanthropy

The language, tools, processes, and practices of philanthropy have evolved steadily and dramatically across four decades. Two elements, strategy and evaluation, are vital to the journey onward. These themes are developed through an essay by Barbara Kibbe, Effectiveness Director at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

The essay provides a fast-paced tour of grantmaker approaches, launching with the advent of long-range planning in the 1980s and visiting scenario planning, social return on investment, human-centered design, big data, and other developments that have influenced practice. The author lands on strategy and evaluation as the anchor approaches that will fuel greater philanthropic impact in the new decade.

This writing draws on content Barbara originally published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog in March 2014. It makes the case that philanthropy needs to reclaim the meaning of strategy and conveys insights via “five things strategy isn’t” – e.g., strategy cannot be inflexible, insulated, or disconnected from those responsible for implementation.

Barbara concludes with a refreshed set of predictions for the next chapter in the unfolding story of strategy and evaluation.

Read the full essay here.