March 16, 2015Op-ed

Nonprofit Quaterly: Getting the Most Out of Evaluations

by Kelly Fitzsimmons


As a longtime funder of evidence-based programs and rigorous evaluations, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) has learned from experience how difficult it can be to build an evidence base and extract the maximum benefit from evaluation. All of EMCF’s 19 current grantees are undergoing or have completed rigorous evaluation.

Just as every youth-serving organization or program is unique, so every evaluation presents its own challenges and opportunities. One size does not fit all. But over the years, we have made some general observations and learned some lessons that we hope policymakers, funders, and nonprofit practitioners may find helpful as starting points when they consider how to interpret and use evaluation findings.