Supporting learning across investments for an education philanthropy

Client: A European Family Foundation
Location: India
Sector: Education
Dates of service: July 2017 - February 2018
IDinsight service: Assessment/monitoring framework development, theory of change mapping
IDinsight contacts: Raghav Adlakha, Ronald Abraham
Status: Complete

The Problem

Education in India is suffering from a crisis. The latest evidence shows that only 44% of Grade 5 students are able to read a Grade 2 level text. Literature suggests that the education system is also unable to provide students with vital non-academic skills such as self-esteem and interpersonal skills.

This crisis is the product of multiple, deep-rooted, structural problems in the Indian education system - including outdated pedagogical methods, poorly developed curricula, inadequate teacher training, and mismanaged school governance. Stakeholders looking to improve this system must adopt multi-pronged, systemic approaches that address a range of inter-linked issues, with a close eye at the administrative viability and external validity of these solutions.

In this context, it is imperative for funding organisations to identify a set of impactful and complementary intervention-types, in geographies that have the greatest need, through organizations that have a identified a clear path to scale.However, funders often lack the tools to be able to identify such patterns. While foundations often have grantee-specific data, there are no systems or industry-standard frameworks in place to aggregate data across different grantees; thus, it becomes difficult for funders to leverage learnings from past grant cycles to inform future funding decisions.

The foundation was  interested in consolidating evidence from their existing set of grants to help inform decisions regarding forthcoming grant cycles. They wished to set processes in place that would allow them to collect and analyse this data independently in the future.

Evidence Needs

IDinsight Service

IDinsight was engaged to develop a tool that would help aggregate information across the foundation’s set of grantees, and to collect data that would feed into this tool. We then used the tool (a 'learning framework') to identify trends in the foundation’s existing portfolio. These included insights around the differential social impact of different intervention-types, geographies, and partner profiles. The tool was also built to enable relative comparisons between individual grantees on their evidence of impact and overall outlook towards measurement and evaluation.

This was accompanied by a set of standardized theories of change for all their grantees, to enable the foundation to track and tailor their support to each specific organisation’s unique programmatic approach and timeline.

Using the learning framework, and through discussions with other major stakeholders in the sector, IDinsight developed a set of recommendations to assist the foundation in determining their future funding strategy.


The foundation reports that the learning framework has been valuable in shaping their understanding of their grantees’ overall impact, particularly regarding the robustness of the evidence that supports this assessment. Key insights from the learning framework were presented to the foundation’s leadership in multiple settings.


The foundation has also shared both individualized (grantee-specific) and aggregated (portfolio trends) findings from the learning exercise with grantees, and have used the framework’s results and individualized theories of change to guide discussions with these organizations. Some of the foundation’s grantees have used the theories of change to redevelop their measurement strategy, and the foundation is planning to offer this exercise to their grantees in the future as well.