Getting Inside the Story: Ethnographic Approaches to Evaluation

To get insight into a complex community, problem or process of change, sometimes you need to look beyond conventional research or evaluation methods. Ethnography is a powerful way to step inside the culture of an organization or community, hear ongoing feedback from multiple points of view, and understand a program's real impact. In this guide, learn about ethnography's benefits and pitfalls, and see how grantmakers use the method to document, evaluate and improve approaches to youth engagement, HIV education and neighborhood policing.


  • Understanding ethnography's pros and cons
  • Generating lessons quickly and continuously
  • Telling a more authentic institutional or community story
  • Stimulating reflection on the front lines

This guide is part of a series on evaluation techniques, check out related content below for additional resources in this series.