Evaluations of CGD

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CGD has twice been the subject of outside assessments and is currently in discussion with funders including the UK Department for International Development about a possible independent evaluation in 2014 of selected areas of CGD work. The two completed assessments are described below; links to the relevant documents are provided.

Redstone Strategy Group LLC, 2012

Ahead of CGD’s 10th anniversary the Redstone Strategy Group worked with CGD management to conduct a strategic review of the Center’s work that examined four questions:

  • How are we doing relative to our peers?
  • How are we perceived and what could we do better?
  • Should we become more global, and if so, how?
  • How can we better connect our work to real-world impact?

The study, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, drew upon internal and external interviews and the experiences of comparable organizations, as input for deliberations within CGD.  The final report summarizes Redstone’s findings and the Center’s plans to implement the recommendations. These activities are reflected in Redstone’s main conclusions:

  • CGD is one of the preeminent think tanks working on development. The consensus among interviewees was that CGD “punches above its weight.” At the same time, most felt that CGD could still glean valuable insights from peers, such as in hiring and promoting its work.
  • CGD is well-perceived on an absolute scale, though it still has room to improve. Most importantly, both internal and external interviewees felt CGD could increase its impact by being slightly more formal in defining its intellectual structure and documenting how it pursues its goals within that framework.
  • CGD’s plans for concrete steps to become more global make sense. CGD will expand its focus on “rich and powerful” US-based institutions and high-income countries in Europe to explicitly include new influential countries and institutions around the world. More tangibly, CGD will open a new office in Europe to enhance its ability to understand and influence European development policymaking while looking actively for opportunities to expand engagement in emerging economies and collaboration with scholars in developing states.
  • CGD will be clearer in conveying to its supporters how it decides on its work programs, and will experiment with new tools to anticipate and track influence and impact. For example, in response to comments that the reasons behind CGD’s choice of topics are not always externally apparent, the Center will better convey its philosophy, clarify why it pursues specific issues, and more explicitly articulate the objectives within each. CGD will also experiment with expected return estimates to assess prospective initiatives and set metrics and targets for its work. Using these tools, CGD will refine its monitoring and evaluation to better shape future investments.

Further information on these recommendations, the ideas that underpin them, and the tools that CGD is currently experimenting with are available in a summary memo prepared by Redstone for CGD’ s management team, the Strategy and Planning Group.

Arabella Advisors 2006

Ahead of CGD’s fifth anniversary Arabella Advisors examined CGD’s operations and programmatic impact. The in-depth study included more than 150 interviews and analysis of a survey of more than 1,400 users of CGD’s research products.  The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, led to a strengthening of the Center’s policy outreach efforts and helped to inform the funders’ continued support.

The study reached the following conclusions:

  • The Center for Global Development has carved itself a niche by linking rigorous research and cutting-edge communications to the non-partisan pursuit of policy change.
  • President Nancy Birdsall attracted a talented staff of scholars, who with a circle of highly respected colleagues developed a research agenda pursuing high visibility issues.
  • Its research projects and initiatives have had demonstrable impact on issues ranging from vaccine research to aid effectiveness to debt relief for Africa’s most populous country.
  • To influence policymakers in rich countries, the Center needs to engage more broadly and responsively with them on issues on which it hopes to shape international development.
  • CGD should evaluate and strengthen outreach efforts to advocacy groups to formalize and ensure the inclusion of other voices and perspectives in every aspect of its work.
  • To solidify its success and feed future growth, CGD leadership should nurture deeper relationships with numerous key stakeholders.

Access the Arabella report on CGD.