Lessons from World Vision: Mandatory indicators don’t work!

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 22.11.38Here’s another powerful experiment by a major NGO on how to measure results. It’s from World Vision, a few years ago. The experiment was to roll out the same 12 standard impact indicators across all their programmes, worldwide. (World Vision currently works in over 80 countries worldwide.)

I’m greatly impressed by how much material World Vision has published. Their original approach was ultimately unsuccessful. But they’ve continued to evolve the ideas. Both the original effort and their current materials have powerful lessons for other NGOs today. Continue reading

Client Satisfaction Saves Lives

ICCO cartoon2ICCO has recently published reports of their impressive pilots on Client Satisfaction Instruments. It’s a wonderful example of a serious pilot by an NGO on client feedback – and a great contribution to sector-wide learning.

Thank you, ICCO!

From 2009-12, they ran pilots with partners in Malawi and Ethiopia, and generated some fantastic results. Continue reading

Time to Listen by Dayna Brown and Mary B Anderson

Time to listenHave you seen the great, new, free book: Time to Listen, by Mary B Anderson, Dayna Brown and Isabella Jean. It presents a vast research exercise on what the people who receive aid say about our work. It’s a powerful critique and evidence that we – as NGOs and donors – ignore at our peril.

The researchers listened to 6,000 people who live in countries that receive aid. This serious effort was undertaken from 2005 to 2009, by the consistently thoughtful CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. (Mary B Anderson is the author of Do No Harm.) Continue reading

Hats off to Oxfam. But are they asking the right question?

Oxfam GB has just published their first project effectiveness reviews.

Impressively, they’re available on line, telling an unvarnished story of what Oxfam achieved in 26 projects, along with the problems they’ve faced. This is great transparency. It’s also great for other NGOs to learn from their experience. So hats off to Oxfam! Continue reading

Plan’s Performance Agenda: What do you think?

Plan staff near a field in Guatemala

I work with Plan International now. In July, we held a seminar on our new Performance Agenda, which is based on the ideas set out on this website. 27 experts met in London, to talk it over and kick the tyres.

Our aim is to ensure that field staff are more accountable to (a) local communities, (b) managers and (c) donors – all through one coherent approach. It focuses mainly on managing the quality of assistance we provide (which is in our control), rather than long term impact (which is not). Continue reading

Watermelons, development projects and square boxes

Square watermelons from Japan. If only people grew in square boxes too.

Here’s a great story that shows why people are not like watermelons (see picture): they won’t grow in square boxes.

It’s a perfect example of the pitfalls of logframes. In this case, the logframe created the wrong incentives for field managers. They didn’t pay enough attention to what other people were doing. So although the team completed all their activities, they didn’t achieve their goals. Continue reading

Monitoring in the real world

Monitoring that helps NGOs achieve more

I just read a great new manual on monitoring NGO work. It’s called Integrated Monitoring, by Sonia Herrero of inProgress. It’s available for free and I highly recommend it.

It’s easy to read and written in Plain English. The text is genuinely quick and easy to follow. The ideas are excellently explained. Hurrah! This is all too rare in NGO guidance. Continue reading