Strengthening the Philanthropic Evaluation Field: The Walton Family Foundation’s Initial Exploration

In early 2021, as part of a larger organization-wide strategic planning process, the Walton Family Foundation Strategy, Learning and Evaluation Department undertook a team-based process of identifying areas of the larger philanthropic evaluation field that the foundation can (1) support; (2) learn from; and (3) provide some level of leadership to as it develops and strengthens over time.


Multiple topics were explored internally and then with 18 leaders from the philanthropic evaluation field (see the acknowledgements for a list), including both evaluators (within and outside of philanthropic organizations) and program staff who commission and utilize evaluations. These discussions focused on two initial topics (below) but also expanded to explore other topics identified by participants.

  • Measuring causality in complex systems; and

  • Strengthening the use of evidence in decision-making.

This report explores the results of the discussions with field leaders along with other insights from the field.