27 Oct Symposium: NGO-IDEAs – grassroots based impact monitoring

Date: 27 October 2011
Venue: Bonn, Germany

Dear all,
For the last three years, 14 German NGOs with 40 NGOs from Asia and Africa have been working to develop tools for assessing change and its causes, in short: impact monitoring that were to be specifically relevant for NGOs. Under the name of NGO-IDEAs, tools were developed through which target groups set their own goals and monitor their achievements. NGOs  and in some cases government agencies use the data generated for quantitative and qualitative assessment and reporting on outcome/impact.
Filtering according to poverty category is possible. The tools have been successfully applied in various sectors (from Saving and Credit through lactating mothers and primary schools to the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities). NGOs in East Africa, South Asia and the Philippines are now sustaining the application of the tools and spread them spontaneously to other projects and organisations. Programs have been improved through the tools and the application itself leads to more ownership and autonomy of grassroot organisations.
On Oct 27, the results of the 3-year phase will be discussed publicly. Two partners Mary Mate, Catholic Diocese of Embu; Kenya and Alma de la Paz, Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Philippines) will present their experiences and international experts will discuss the approach. Speakers and Panel: Christiane Bögemann-Hagedorn, Head of Civil Society and Economy Department and Michaela Zintl, Head of Evaluation Department (BMZ/German Ministry for Development), Robert Chambers IDS Sussex), Cecile Kusters (Centre of Development Innovation,Wageningen), Susanne Neubert (National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago, Dörte Segebart, Freie Universität, Berlin).
Some places are still available. More information and the registration form: http://www.ngo-ideas.net/news/, items of 10/10/2011 and 06/30/2011.
Publications can be downloaded from www.ngo-ideas.net/publications. The symposium focuses on the Impact Toolbox – one of three main products of NGO-IDEAs.

Check the Impact Toolbox: http://www.ngo-ideas.net/impact_toolbox/ and
the Field Experience: http://www.ngo-ideas.net/field_experiences/

NGO-IDEAs also has an advisory role to VENRO, the German development NGO’s umbrella body. VENRO recently published a position paper “Quality before Proof” that sets “empowerment” as one of four purposes of impact observation. http://www.venro.de/evaluation.html. The symposium takes place in the wider context of this paper that has generated some discussion in Germany.

Kind regards

Bernward Causemann/NGO-IDEAs

Bernward Causemann, www.causemann.org

DFID&UKES Workshop on Development and Evaluation: Practical Ways Forward.


Venue: BIS Conference Centre, Victor ia, London


  • To examine the key contributions of evaluation to international development
  • To provide an update on the accountability framework for evaluation in the UK
  • To explore the role of professional development in building evaluation capacity

THIS ONE DAY EVENT will raise important issues in the world of development and evaluation. The workshop will offer the chance to hear from senior practitioners and will cover the theory and reality as experienced in many contexts. It will update the accountability framework with particular reference to HM Treasury Guidance for Evaluation (the Magenta Book).

A major challenge for organisations is to develop their own staff as evaluation professionals. UKES will offer international insights as well as an update on its own guidance. DFID will report on how it is going about building its own community of evaluators. These will be presented alongside those from the NGO and voluntary sector. The day is relevant to all individuals and organisations with an interest and experience of development and evaluation, including: Donors, Consultants, Public and private sector representatives, Academics, A wide range of professionals

The workshop will commence at 09.00 and close at 17.30.
Highlights will include:

  • Updates on the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI),  HM Treasury’s Magenta Book and the Cross Government Evaluation Group (CGEG)
  • How to evaluate in fragile states, conlict environments and other challenging situations
  •  Case studies of evaluation at different levels: national and local,  sector specific
  • How to build professional capacity: use of accreditation and adapting to it a range of organisations at government and civil society level

The workshop will be held at the BIS Conference Centre, 1 Victoria, Street, London SW1H OET.
The registration fees are as follows:
UKES members  £75.00 + VAT
Non-members  £100.00 + VAT
Registration and the full programme for the workshop are available from the website  www.profbriefings.co.uk/depwf
For any further information, contact the workshop administrators:
Professional Brieings
37 Star Street
Hertfordshire SG12 7AA
01920 487672
Email:  london@profbrieings.co.uk

Measuring Up: HIV-related advocacy evaluation training pack (draft)

HIV-related advocacy evaluation training for civil society organisations.

Produced by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (Secretariat), International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), July 2010, 38 pages. Available as .pdf

“This training pack is published by the Alliance and the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) and consists of two guides designed for advocacy, monitoring and evaluation staff of civil society organisations (including networks) who are involved in designing, implementing and assessing advocacy projects at different levels. The purpose of these guides is to increase users’ capacity to evaluate the progress and results of their advocacy work. The guides aim to:

1. help users to identify and confront the challenges faced by community-based organisations evaluating HIV-related advocacy
2. introduce new thinking for designing advocacy evaluations
3. give users the opportunity to apply some aspects of the evaluation design process to their specific contexts
4. make users aware that advocacy evaluation is a fast-growing and evolving field, with a large number of publications on advocacy evaluation design, approaches and methods available via the Internet and summarised in the resources section of the learner’s guide.”


ActionAid International, 2009, 104 pages.  Available as pdf 3.39Mb

See also the associated AAI website on systematization

Systematization is a methodology that offers a way to do all of the above. It allows us to:

  • Organise and document what we have learnt through our work
  • Better understand the impact of our work and the ways in which change happens
  • Develop deeper understanding about our work and the challenges we face to inform new ways of working
  • Capture and communicate the complexity and richness of our work
Systematization “helps people involved in different kinds of practice to organize and communicate what they have learned. We are talking about …so called …. lessons learned, about which everybody talks nowadays, but are not so easy to produce.” (AAI systematization resource pack, pg. 1, 2009)”

Listen First: a pilot system for managing downward accountability in NGOs

Alex Jacobs and Robyn Wilford. Development in Practice, Volume 20, Number 7, September 2010 Available as pdf

“Abstract: This article reports on a research project intended to develop systematic ways of managing downward accountability in an international NGO. Innovative tools were developed and trialled in six countries. The tools comprised a framework, de?ning downward accountability in practical terms, and three management processes. They were successfully used to
(a) encourage staff to improve downward accountability in ways relevant to their context;
(b) hear bene?ciaries’ assessments of the level of accountability achieved and the value of the NGO’s work; and (c) generate quanti?ed performance summaries for managers. Taken together, they form a coherent draft management system. Areas for further research are identied.”

There’s more related material  at www.listenfirst.org,

The Limits of Nonprofit Impact: A Contingency Framework for Measuring Social Performance

Alnoor Ebrahim, V. Kasturi Rangan, Social Enterprise Initiative, Harvard Business School (2010) Working Paper 10-099 Available as pdf


“Leaders of organizations in the social sector are under growing pressure to demonstrate their impacts on pressing societal problems such as global poverty. We review the debates around performance and impact, drawing on three literatures: strategic philanthropy, nonprofit management, and international development. We then develop a contingency framework for measuring results, suggesting that some organizations should measure long-term impacts, while others should focus on shorter-term outputs and outcomes. In closing, we discuss the implications of our analysis for future research on performance management.”

How Wide are the Ripples?

Report of the March 2010 workshop Prepared by Louise Clark, Kate Newman and Hannah Beardon

“This report presents reflections from a workshop held in London on 18th and 19th March 2010. The workshop was part of a larger process of reflection and research, supported by IKM Emergent and called ‘How Wide Are the Ripples?’. The process explored how international development NGOs use and manage the information, knowledge and perspectives generated through the participatory processes they initiate or fund. The initial research and report built on a literature review and case studies from five international NGOs (ActionAid, Concern, Healthlink, Panos and Plan), identifying challenges and opportunities to good bottom-up information and learning flows. The workshop invited participants from the original research and others working on and around these issues to reflect further on the challenges and discuss practical solutions based on their own experiences.

Participants came from a mix of large international development NGOs, smaller organisations and included independent consultants . The variety of organisations was not only evident in their size, but also in their different structures and relationships with grassroots processes and organisations, a recurring theme throughout the discussions. The expectation, and commitment from the participants, was that these discussions and experiences would feed into a guest-edited edition of the IIED journal Participatory Learning and Action (PLA), in June 2011. The workshop was therefore organised around two main goals: improving the practice of international development NGOs in relation to information generated through participatory processes, through workshop discussions and by developing a network for support and sharing ideas; and promoting further reflection and learning around specific issues, in particular through developing articles for the edition of PLA.”

Addressing accountability in NGO advocacy: Practice, principles and prospects of self-regulation

Michael Hammer, Charlotte Rooney, and Shana Warren
ISSN 2043-7943 Briefing paper number 125, March 2010. One World Trust.

“Global and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are the most distinct organisational form of civil society, and as such have become increasingly involved and influential in forming public opinion and policy through targeted and professional campaigning and policy advocacy. Yet their growing power has also raised questions about the basis on which they engage in these activities, including their accountability and legitimacy in view of frequent explicit or implicit claims these organisations make to social representation, the quality of their research work, and the public benefit they provide.

Based on a world-wide survey of civil society self-regulatory initiatives undertaken by the One World Trust this paper examines how NGOs have begun to address the accountability challenges they face in particular when engaging in advocacy and explains some of the strengths and weaknesses of existing self-regulation for NGOs engaged in advocacy.

Research presented in the paper suggests that both normative and instrumental reasons account for the adoption of accountability principles by advocacy organisations through self-regulation, and that lessons learnt from the One World Trust’s parallel work on accountability principles for policy oriented research organisations can be usefully applied also to strengthen accountability of advocacy NGOs.

The briefing identifies for each major dimension of accountability a set of initial good practice principles for advocacy organisations, including on:
• transparency of the evidence basis used in advocacy, of funding and funders for specific campaigns and activities, and around forward looking information such as strategy, and the processes used to determine advocacy priorities;
• opportunities for participation of beneficiaries and other key stakeholders of the organisation in the development of advocacy objectives and their review; and
• the development of criteria for evaluating the impact of advocacy with beneficiaries and other stakeholders, and the establishment of feedback and complaints handling mechanisms to address individual experiences and problematic impacts.

The paper concludes with the identification of remaining challenges for research and self-regulation practice to strengthen accountability in advocacy by NGOs: how to deal with inherent tensions between objectivity and messaging in purpose driven advocacy; how to protect independence, freedoms and role of NGOs in the public policy process, and how to strengthen the connection between ethical practice in fundraising and selfregulation of policy advocacy work”

Accountability Toolkits for CSO Umbrella Groups in India, Belize, Uganda and the Pacific Region

(from the One World Trust ‘s “Accountability in Action” newsletter, January 2010)

“Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have seen a significant change in their role and influence in society and politics. They are now major providers of essential services, influential advocates for marginalised groups and knowledgeable advisors on public policy. As such, they have become important players in national and international governance. However, with this newfound influence has come greater scrutiny of CSO activities. Worldwide, CSOs are facing growing pressure from governments, donors and the public to be more open about their funding sources, to provide evidence of their impact and to clearly demonstrate which groups they represent and how. Within the context of the changing political environment for CSOs, the One World Trust worked in partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation and local partners on a project across three Commonwealth countries, Belize, India and Uganda, and one region, the Pacific islands, to stimulate discussion among CSOs on what it means to be accountable. The four toolkits on accountability for CSOs in Belize, India, Pacific region and Uganda can be downloaded here.”

How wide are the ripples? The management and use of information generated from participatory processes in international non-governmental development organisations.

In early 2009 five international development NGOs participated in reflection and discussion as part of a research project called ‘How wide are the ripples?’. The aim was to explore the flow and influence of knowledge produced in grassroots participatory processes within the international NGOs which commissioned or initiated process.  This work was supported within a wider research programme called IKM Emergent, which aims to explore how knowledge is used in development, and specifically to promote the recognition and use of ‘Southern knowledge’.  In addition to working with the five participating organisations Hannah Beardon and Kate Newman (independent consultants commissioned by IKM to conduct the research) linked to a wide variety of people who reflected on the questions and shared innovative approaches, which contributed to the learning.

The research, which included a background literature review, identified the context in which INGOs are operating and some inherent obstacles to bottom-up knowledge flow in international organisations.  It also documented examples of how organisations have tried to deal with these blocks, and promote the flow of information from the grassroots to contribute to the organisational understanding of, and response to, development issues.  For example:

  • What is different or distinct about knowledge management when applied to participatory approaches?
  • Do INGOs have a special role and responsibility in bridging local knowledge and international policy regarding development?
  • What kinds of knowledge and information generated through participatory methods can be useful to others in different contexts?
  • What are the practical ways to encourage, enable and facilitate the flow of such knowledge? And
  • How can debate on these questions be encouraged and enriched in INGOs across the development sector?

The review, case studies and report are available here: http://wiki.ikmemergent.net/index.php/Workspaces:5._Participation

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