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  • Writer's pictureEquitable Evaluation Initiative

EEF Expansion: Elements of the EEF—Orthodoxies

Orthodoxies are tightly held beliefs to be questioned/challenged. They can undermine the Equitable Evaluation Framework™ Principles.

A graphic representation of the EEF. The Principles are shown as three guideposts in the foreground with bright red circles at the top, skinny posts to the ground, and roots connecting each of them underground. The Orthodoxies are ever-present as greyish purple vines. The Mindsets are a series of golden icons, representing shifts.

Over time, the philanthropic sector developed a set of “orthodoxies,” or tightly held beliefs, about evaluative practice.* Orthodoxies are often invisible and unspoken, masquerading as “common sense.” They are believed to be foundational and affect the undercurrents of organizational culture. They are shaped by the actors in the philanthropic ecosystem.

Many of the Orthodoxies act like a drag on any evaluation effort and, even more so, on those efforts related to equity. In some cases, they reinforce inequities. They reflect a mix of capitalism and white dominant framing. As evidenced in practice and praxis, these get in the way of advancing the EEF Principles.


In reflecting on these Orthodoxies, six areas surfaced. These areas are expressed and experienced differently based on the actor in the philanthropic ecosystem: foundations, consultants, nonprofits & public/government agencies, and philanthropic serving organizations (PSOs).

Objectivity, Rigor, Evidence


  • Evaluators are objective.

  • Credible evidence comes from quantitative data and experimental research.

  • Grantees and strategies are the focus of the evaluation, but not the foundation.


  • Objectivity is necessary for consultant credibility.

  • There are specific methods and tools for evaluation that center equity.


  • Stories are the best evidence of our impact. Numbers strip away the complexity and humanity of what we do.

  • Programs are the focus of evaluation, not the organization.



  • Credible evidence comes from program attendance.

Resources: Money, Time, People

Expectations, Roles

Definitions, Decisions, Perceptions

Relationships, Trust

Productivity, Accountability


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