Evaluating Social Innovation

This research report, authored by Hallie Preskill and Tanya Beer for FSG, describes how common evaluation approaches can constrain innovative practice and then provides guidance on a new evaluation approach to overcome these hurdles.

"For what kinds of grantmaking strategies should funders consider using developmental  evaluation? What organizational conditions are necessary for it to work? How can grantmakers grapple with  the challenging questions that developmental evaluation raises about innovation, accountability, rigor, and adaptation? Drawing on the reflections and insights of foundation staff and evaluators who have experimented with developmental evaluation, we call on philanthropy to re-envision the role, purpose, and processes of evaluation so that social innovations have a better chance of success."


  • What Does Social Innovation Really Look Like?
  • Why Don’t Traditional Approaches to Evaluation Work For Social Innovation?
  • What evaluation approach is the best fit for each life stage of an initiative?
  • What Kind of Evaluation Supports Learning and Adaptation for Social Innovation?
  • What Kinds of Grantmaking Strategies Are A Good Fit for Developmental Evaluation?
  • How Can Funders Know If They Are Ready for Developmental Evaluation?
  • How Can Foundations Be Ready For The Tough Questions?
  • It’s Time To Evaluate Differently


Preskill, H., & Beer, T. FSG & Center for Evaluation Innovation, (2012). Evaluating social innovation. Retrieved from website: http://www.fsg.org/tabid/191/ArticleId/708/Default.aspx?srpush=true

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