1. Recommendations

Acknowledge, Understand, and Share Powering Lab

There is a power dynamic inherent to the funder-grantee relationship. Therefore, power sharing is critical, and requires intentionality to build relationships founded on trust, reciprocity, and mutual accountability. Evaluation and learning processes is one fruitful pathway for funders to shift power. In doing so, the philanthropic sector can: 

    1. Move into a place of deepened alignment with movements for justice
    2. Acknowledge how normative, Eurocentric evaluation processes have caused significant harm, particularly to BIPOC-led organizations and communities
    3. Invest in approaches that more effectively lift up stories of marginalized communities

Budget Resources for Evaluation

Funders should work with grantee partner organizations to co-create a budget that supports reimagined evaluation and learning processes. The Movement-Defined Learning Pilot showed us that while dollars are necessary, organizations are also looking for support such as training on narrative power building, facilitated spaces for peer-learning, and resources to incentivize community participation in learning.

Orient to a Liberatory Praxis of Research and Evaluation

The Movement-Defined Learning Pilot has demonstrated the importance of moving beyond normative evaluation processes. We invite—and urge—funders to orient to the principles of Liberatory Research. We highlight the following two as a starting point on a journey toward liberatory praxis:

    1. Minimize burden and harm in the research and evaluation field by recognizing and resisting enduring, harmful power relations in research and evaluation practices and outputs.
    2. Seek out and utilize methodologies, approaches, and theories that can provide more effective ways to conduct our projects with marginalized communities.

Co-create Learning Agendas

Grantees should self-determine learning priorities, evaluation methods, and how those results will be used. Grantees value learning and evaluation. They want to reflect on challenges and how to navigate through them. They want to revel in successes and reflect on how to replicate them. Funders can support this by reimagining evaluation by shifting power and centering grantees. Through this reframe, the role of funders moves toward supporting the work of grantees through resource sharing and capacity building—and away from acting as an authoritarian figure using evaluation for accountability purposes.

Include Perspectives from Multiple Stakeholders

Diversify perspectives in evaluation by engaging individuals beyond executive directors, development staff, etc—for example, by including individuals from the community whom the organization serves. By doing this, we acknowledge that there is no absolute truth; rather, reality is dynamic and relative to perspectives and contexts. Engaging multiple perspectives allows us to uncover and illuminate new learnings, and strengthens the work of grantee partner organization by deepening relationships.

Co-design the Communication and Sharing of Evaluation Findings

Too often, evaluation results are submitted and never heard of again. A recurring theme throughout the Movement-Defined Learning Project is the need for support in storytelling and narrative building. Funders should support grantees by co-designing the dissemination process of evaluation findings in a way that is useful and impactful for grantees. As we use more liberatory evaluative approaches, we become more grounded in conducting evaluation in service to movements for justice and grassroots organizers.