On Wednesday, August 3rd, Jennifer Lentfer, the former Head of Head of Organizational Learning & Capacity Building at Firelight Foundation and the author of How-Matters.org, guest hosted a training on Monitoring and Evaluation for GlobalGiving’s partners. A brief summary is provided below.
The goal of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is to demonstrate your results and achievements to your stakeholders. In other words, you are looking for the “so what” of your organization’s activities and then finding the best way to convey that information.
First of all, ponder this statement: “The human dimensions of community work are more important than the numbers.” This is something important to remember when evaluating your work. It isn’t only about the numbers; it is about the people, especially in development work.
Many complicated terms come with the process of M&E, but the purpose of this training is to demystify those. First, there is a difference between the words monitoring and evaluating. Think of it in terms of a child’s growth. We monitor a child’s height by measuring and weighing him or her every few months, but we evaluate if he or she is healthy and growing right at the end of a year or so.
Specifically in the realm of monitoring, here are some good questions to ask:
- What are we trying to change? –“Problem Analysis”
- Where do we want to get to?- “Goals & Objectives”
- How are we going to get there?- “Strategy and Activities”
- What do we expect to happen along the way?- “Results”
- How do we know we are on the right road?-“ Indicators & Targets”
Monitoring is the measurement process. This is where simple forms and activities to gain results back from beneficiaries and volunteers come into play. Remember, both numbers and stories are important!
Evaluating is taking those results and finding the impact. It can be especially difficult to figure out what your results and impact are because “impact” is often a vague term. Think of it in a four step plan.
- Activity- What are you planning to do?
- Output- What have you done?
- Outcome- What are the results?
- Impact- So what? Bigger effect?
For example, let’s say your activity is a School Feeding Program. Your output would be the kids receiving food. Your outcome would be that the kids gain weight and are healthier. The impact then is that the school now has healthier kids.
A few quick data collection tips:
- Know the info you need before you start
- Once you have data, plan how you will report it best and share your data
- Simple exercises and forms are most useful
- Data is more than numbers, stories of change are powerful pieces of data as well!
- Any data you collect, share it with the community you’re in so they can see the progress they are making.
- Keep good records!
Monitoring and evaluation are important processes. When broken down, they can be easy to understand and valuable assets for your organization!