Greater Good Blog

Sharing Ideas on Evaluation, Learning, and DEI in Grant Making

Sharing Ideas on Evaluation, Learning, and DEI in Grant Making

Arabella’s evaluation team, led by Senior Director Julie Slay, attended last week’s American Evaluation Association conference in Washington, DC—both to learn from experts in the field and to share ideas for continuing to move the philanthropic sector toward greater effectiveness and impact.

Drawing on recent work, the team led two sessions: one on cultivating a culture of learning within organizations, the other on incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in grant making.

The first session, “Bending the Rules and Tools to Get from Data to Learning in Dynamic Organizations,” built on a blog post that Slay and Director Marissa Guerrero previously shared. In it, they walked through their experiences designing evaluation plans for dynamic clients who wished to simultaneously collect data and develop an effective approach to learning.

Then, on Friday, Slay joined with Kheira Issaoui-Mansouri to discuss efforts to incorporate DEI principles into grant making.

“Funders often fall into the trap of adopting grant-making guidelines that inadvertently end up undermining their missions,” Slay explains, “such as being more likely to award funding to larger, well-known organizations than to lower-capacity, on-the-ground groups working directly with the target population.”

Late last year, Arabella developed a set of guidelines to help funders eliminate implicit bias and better incorporate DEI in their grant making. We also published an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that highlighted and explained several of those guidelines.

In the AEA session, the Arabella team shared several ideas on how evaluators can use these tools and practices to engage their funder clients in conversations about DEI in their grant making, with an eye toward moving philanthropy as a whole, as well as individual funders, closer to achieving shared social-impact goals.

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