In recent decades, development donors in the West have touted a shift to rigorous evaluations and evidence-based policymaking in order to address global skepticism regarding the effectiveness of aid. In the accompanying rhetoric, accountability and learning have been held up as twin pillars that will ensure a more effective aid-making system. This contribution questions the ability of these concepts to improve aid in their current working forms. The contribution offers a revised conceptualization of learning in order to improve funding and funding policy. The revised definition supports two particular areas in which learning is sorely needed but which are eschewed in most current institutionalized evaluation rhetoric: developing theory undergirding social change (such as theories relating to gender-based violence) and evaluating project design and implementation processes (such as participatory designs).