Conference theme

The UN General Assembly declared 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation. Joint efforts, undertaken this year at different levels will strive to promote practice of evaluation and emphasize the importance of developing its potential. Supporting these efforts the Russian Donors Forum decided to join the current initiative by announcing the current 2015 as a year of evaluation for Russian philanthropic community.

The Russian Donors Forum is working with the theme of evaluation for a number of years, discussing its various aspects, mastering new mechanisms, and exchanging best practices. However, in an increasingly complex operating environment the role of evaluation has to be strengthened. To set a clear strategy for strengthening the evaluation culture within the philanthropic community and to define the main focuses of joint efforts, the Russian Donors Forum issues a Position Statement on Evaluation. The full text of the document may be found at www.donorsforum.ru/projects/mezhdunarodnyj-god-otsenki/the-position-of-russian-donors-forum-on-development-of-evaluation-culture-within-donors-community/

One of the key events of Russian donors’ community is an annual conference that will take place this year on October 22nd.

The XIII Annual conference “Art of evaluation in philanthropy: culture and practices” will bring together representatives of Russian and international donors community interested to discuss challenges that foundations face while striving to strengthen the evaluation culture in the non-profit sector and assessing the impact of their philanthropic initiatives. Conference participants will share their experience in building evaluation capacity, utilizing evaluation results and undergoing a systematic process of self-examination and improvement.

Registration for the event is open till October 9th, 2015. More information about the conference and the registration process may be found at www.dfconference.ru

9:15 – 10:00 Registration. Welcoming tea and coffee

9:40 – 9:55 Orientation «How the Conference is arranged: format, content, and rules»

For representatives of organizations participating in the Conference for the first time

10:00 – 10:15 Official opening of the Conference

Greetings from partners and organizers of the Conference

10:15 – 11:15 Opening Plenary Session

Discussion «Why should we do evaluations?» and presentation of main findings of the research on «Status of evaluations in charitable organizations»

11:15 – 11:45 Keynote Address

«Why Evaluation Matters: Its Practice, Promise, and Value»

11:45 – 12:00 Ceremony of Award: «For Leadership and Excellence in the Field of Evaluation»

12:00 – 12:30 Refreshment Break

12:30 – 14:00 Section Discussions: Part 1.

Theme 1. Evaluating PR activities

There has been an increase in the attention toward institutional philanthropy during the last two years, and the subject of philanthropy is becoming more public and open. In spite of this, the majority of our fellow citizens have more questions about the philanthropic usage of funds than a desire to support and objectively evaluate their role in society. The sector itself is not always willing to part with the poor practice of accusing journalists of writing little about projects implemented with the support of foundations and companies, and not describing anything about the charitable organizations, and their role in bringing these benefits to society.

How are the funds themselves supposed to assess the quality and effectiveness of their communications with the external environment? Why is the focus often solely on the number of articles published or the percentage of positive publications? What goals should be made for PR in supporting funds, so that organizations become better known, society grows confident in them, and the government and society become aware of the role philanthropic institutions play in solving problems and the countries social capital? How can their perspectives on this kind of work be changed? Why do we continually look at PR exclusively as a function of communicating with journalists, while it involves building relationships with far more stakeholders?

Theme 2. Role of evaluation in organizational development

The results of institutional development cannot always be simple formalized, and therefore measured and evaluated (for example, organizational culture, human capital or processes’ maturity level). At the same time the level of organizational development is a determining factor in the sustainability and assurance of quality in the work of a foundation.

What should be at the center of evaluation of foundation’s institutional development? Who are the clients of such an evaluation? What is the involvement process for beneficiaries and partners of the fund, and how are their views taken into account? What criteria shall be used for assessing the potential of the organization and its effectiveness? What limitations are encountered in such a process and how can they be overcome? How can the results of such evaluation be used for maximum benefit?

Theme 3. Utilization of evaluation results: trends, lessons, and good practices

Evaluations only have value if they are recognized and used for making decisions. However, it is no secret that often a multipage written report is the only the result of a long evaluation process and that a very few managers will make an effort to read it. As a result, the knowledge obtained during the evaluation and the conclusions and recommendations proposed by the independent experts are in little demand and have no opportunities for practical application. Such a situation does little in promoting a culture of evaluations in organizations.

What factors affect the extent to which evaluation results are utilized? How can the evaluations be carried out such that they meet the maximum possible needs of the organization and assemble the necessary information for each particular situation? What alternatives or supplements to the classic evaluation report can be provided? To what extent can evaluation products can be interactive? Does the degree to which key stakeholders are involved in the evaluation process increase the utilization of evaluation results?

14:00 – 15:00 Lunch Break

14:30 – 15:00 Presentation of «Evaluation: Data, Experiences, and Lessons» materials at stands

15:00 – 16:30 Section Discussions: Part 2.

Theme 4. Measuring social impact

Whether implemented directly by foundations or by their grantees with foundation’s financial support, majority of programs designed and aimed at solving social problems. Changes in the external environment, brought about by the results of a project, are known as the social impact.

How can we catch the impact that occurred because of our programs have been implemented? How to deal with the external factors that could have also contributed to the solving the same problem? What does it take to collect credible data and build a strong case? What are the most appropriate methods to use for this? In what situations is it almost impossible to create a social change? Is there a difference between social impact and social effectiveness?

Theme 5. Developing the culture of evaluation among grantees and beneficiaries

Donor organizations have a special role in promoting the culture and practice of evaluation not only within their organization, but also within the spheres of their grant recipients: foundations can influence financial resources, incorporate an analytical approach in their content reports, and create possibilities for growth in beneficiaries’ competencies in monitoring and evaluation.

In practice, how can foundations and companies support their beneficiaries’ desire to work more effectively and efficiently? What forms of work and resources are most in demand? What challenges must be overcome in order for a systemic understanding of their activities to become part of the organizational culture of beneficiaries?

Theme 6. Features of evaluation in companies and various other types of funds

Every kind of foundation has a focus to its work and each can be identified by its characteristic uniqueness and the set of qualities and characteristics reflected in its personnel and in the programs designed for working with stakeholders and beneficiaries.

Is there a rule of thumb to follow in approaching the evaluation process and implementing it for different types of foundations? Can we say that certain types of evaluations are more favorable for certain types of foundations? Is there a practice of using evaluation results in corporate and private foundations? What can foundations learn from each other?

16:30 – 17:00 Refreshment Break

17:00 – 17:15 Ceremony of Award of «Objective Philanthropy» competition

17:15- 18:00 Closing Plenary Session

Final Discussion. Conclusion and review of the entire conference