Examples of the topical range of 3F efforts might include such efforts as: examining the evaluative assumptions and methodology used by historians of warfare in supporting evaluative judgments; the scope and limitations of ‘big data’ methodology for social policy analy­sis; supporting work by a small international specialist online group focusing on specific technical problems in intercultural cooperation and evaluative comparis­ons; the application of game theory (or positive psychology; or addiction theory) to the ethics of suicide prevention; the quality of a sample of evaluations done by a state’s legislative analysts (or by a federal inspector-general’s office; or by the World Bank); the utility in certain circumstances of what might be called ‘televal’ by analogy with the now highly active field of telemedicine, e.g., to bring technical or manage­ment skills from highly experienced evaluators to Nepal or Namibia or the Northern Sioux; developing new curricula and pedagogy for teaching evaluation method­ology in the K-16 realm (or in the professional development area); the validity of quality-adjusted life years (QALYS) as the emerging key metric for national/­inter­national social (or medical) interventions. We have already supported a number of other examples, a few of which are mentioned below.

In general, supported proposals will undertake to produce new understand­ing or evaluative information about, or methods for doing, evaluation, in a form suitable for immediate publication, typically in a paper, chapter, or a set of these. Meta-evaluations are of course eligible, but support can go well beyond them, e.g., to improve the logic of rubric formulation. On the other hand, it is unlikely that funding will provide support for purchase of travel or durable equipment, since online video and technology rental are usually adequate; and of course, work that has been previously published, online or in hard copy, will not be eligible. Also ineligible is any evaluation of the usual applied kind that currently occurs in the score of fields where thousands of professional evaluators already work, not even if it uses some novel methodology; the research must be on that novel methodology, not just embodying it.

There is no hidden agenda in the sense of a preferred approach other than that outlined above. The judging for awards, and all other strategic management decisions will be done by the 3F Advisory Committee, a group of experienced evaluation specialists and disciplinary leaders representing many evaluation approaches, including many ex-presidents and editors of eval­uation organizations and publications such as leading journals and anthologies; their names and interests can be found here. Jane Davidson will be Chief Operations Officer, but everyone involved, including donors, will have at most one vote.


The financial limitations on 3F support at the moment mean that applications for a few thous­and dollars are perhaps slightly more likely to be supported than those requesting or requir­ing tens of thousands (partly because there can be more of them); and requiring hundreds of thousands puts a proposal beyond the current 3F range. That range may be expanded in later years, since our resources may expand via stock market growth, or by inspiring or developing further contribut­ions, (We may also be useful as co-sponsors for larger projects.)

3F is legally set up as a Donor Advised Fund under the umbrella of the Marin Community Foundation, the third largest community foundation in the US (it is a non profit 501(c)(3) organ­ization, in US legal terminology). That management and funding is set up to continue in perpetuity, subject to the continued agreement of the Advisory Committee.