Follow Up on Evidence-Based Grantmaking

On Tuesday I wrote about the rise of evidence-based decision making in the medical community and related it to the current evidence-based movement in philanthropy. A few readers pushed back on my thesis and argued that proving effectiveness in medicine was different and easier than in philanthropy.

I couldn’t agree more! However, that only furthers my point. My point is that even in a field where collecting evidence and determining what really works is relatively easier than doing so in philanthropy, the rise of evidence-based decision making is only a recent phenomenon.

The point of my post is that philanthropy’s limited embrace of evidence-based grantmaking is not unusual. The history of evidence-based decision making in medicine gives me hope because it suggests that philanthropy is on the right trajectory towards more fully incorporating evidence into our decision making process. The history of medicine shows that we still have a long road ahead, but we are on the right track.

However, I certainly did not mean to imply that philanthropy would adopt the same standards of evidence as the medical community. Each field needs to establish its own best practices of establishing what works.