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The MasterCard Foundation: Development of a Strategic Learning and Evaluation System

Case Overview

FSG was engaged by The MasterCard Foundation to design a strategic learning and evaluation (SLE) system to guide the Foundation’s efforts to measure its impact and learn from its work in order to achieve greater impact.

The Challenge

The MasterCard Foundation believes that every person has the potential to transform his or her life, and the opportunity to improve one’s community. The Foundation works to increase access to microfinance and youth education to people in developing countries living in poverty. FSG was engaged to develop program-level evaluation strategies for the two key initiative areas (youth learning and microfinance), as well as an overarching evaluation system to create the culture, conditions, and resources for The MasterCard Foundation to become a learning organization.

Approach & Solutions

FSG led a collaborative, engaged, and customized process to develop a strategic learning and evaluation strategic system (SLE). FSG engaged the entire Foundation staff through individual interviews, working sessions, and all-staff workshops. Also, the FSG team worked with each program team intensively through weekly working sessions to create outcomes maps and evaluation questions.

Based on the insights and findings from the different interviews and working sessions, FSG developed an initial M&E strategy outline for discussion during a full-day strategy workshop with staff. The workshop helped FSG build the M&E strategy and system in ways that are meaningful and useful to the Foundation. Staff experiences and perspectives were critical to designing a strategy and system that support their efforts and that are congruent with the organization’s culture and work practices.

After the workshop, FSG worked collaboratively with staff leads to develop specific recommendations for reporting and dissemination. Management and reporting needs were based on the desired communications needs for different internal and external MasterCard stakeholders.

At the end of the project, FSG delivered a detailed, customized “SLE binder” with a roadmap for implementing an SLE system and extensive appendices to educate the staff and future evaluation director. The binder included:

  • Customized strategic framing components (including outcomes maps and strategic evaluation questions)
  • Customized recommendations for evaluation activities
  • General recommendations for infrastructure needs

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto. Their global mandate is to enable people living in poverty to improve their lives – and the lives of their families and communities – by expanding their access to microfinance and youth learning.

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