Project Overview

The Equitable Evaluation Project builds on an evolving focus on equity in philanthropic practice which has resulted in emerging principles for equity-focused grantmaking. These principles include: conducting structural analyses of inequity, including stakeholders and affected communities in the co-design of strategies, and attending to funders’ own institutional policies and practices related to diversity and equity. These principles also emphasize that data about problems being addressed—

as well as about the outcomes of the change initiative—should at minimum be disaggregated so that differential effects by race, ethnicity, gender, language, or a myriad of other dimensions can be spotted and accounted for. However, little conversation within philanthropy has focused more broadly on the ways in which evaluation can and does support or align with the principles of equity-focused grantmaking.


This graphic describes the current ways in which diversity, equity, and inclusion manifest in various components of philanthropic practice. We see an opportunity to explore, understand, and influence the ways in which equity is integrated into philanthropic evaluation practice.

Equitable Evaluation Graphic

Meanwhile, the US-focused evaluation field has been deepening and advancing its own focus on social justice and equity. A sub-field within the evaluation community has a history of focusing on participatory and empowerment evaluation as approaches that explicitly account for the power imbalances and inequities often reproduced by conventional evaluation.

These approaches are built upon the same principles of inclusion and social justice that inform equity-focused grantmaking. Yet they are often not designed in a way that helps change agents understand and address the structural barriers to equity.

The EE Project Team seeks to bring these two conversations together, to learn across the two fields and, ultimately, to create a movement of individuals and institutions to systematically integrate equitable evaluation practices into philanthropic and evaluative work.

Through exploratory interviews, a framing paper and set of examples, and a one-day convening in August 2017, the Equitable Evaluation Project seeks to:


Document what equity programming looks like in practice


Identify current practice in the evaluation of equity programming


Develop insights, principles, and recommendations for effective equitable evaluation

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Identify areas where further development of the field’s thinking, capacity, and commitment is needed