5 Steps to NGO Success: Part 4 Monitoring and Evaluation
As NGOs generate amounts of aid resources, international there is a responsibility to demonstrate that they are achieving results. As the InterAction.org site states it so well:
"The need to better measure what aid is (or isn’t) achieving has become a major focus for a wide range of development actors, both domestically and internationally, especially as foreign aid resources come under strain."
Part 4: Monitoring and Evaluation for NGOs
In our previous posts, we have discussed the importance of collaboration, research and execution, and fundraising. If you are doing all these things right, you potentially are helping a great deal of people, and raisinfg significant funds to better push the mission of your Non-Governmental Organization, non-profit, aid organization, etc.
NGOs must consider many facets in an M&E strategy:
1) WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? What are the milestones of the project and what are the final outputs? Just by setting these goals, it will be easier to determine what you are looking to accomplish,m and if those goals are realistic. Stating a goal of "literacy across 100% of Country A" is valiant, but is it realistic? Increased school attendance by 30% and vaccination records collected in areas A, B, and C may be more realistic (although still a lot of work.)
2) HOW DO YOU MONITOR your NGO? Not only do you need a methodology able to constantly monitor the development of the project, but you need the tools to monitor that development. Staffers need to be able to learn and use these tools quickly and efficiently. A mobile app for NGOs like Zerion DC can be utilized easily, with custom forms created with our exclusive mobile platform. With the form pushed out to mobile devices in the field, users can collect data in real time, with results immediately being tabulated. One advantage to Zerion DC is the ability to collect in offline situations, with the data uploading as soon as uthe device is in a wi-fi or cell area setting. (Truth in advertising: There are other acceptable ways to collect information, we just happen to think ours is the best!-jg)
3) WHAT IS THE OUTCOME? As started at the Funds For NGOs website, outcomes and impacts are more difficult to assess:
...It is clear how to measure the success of an implemented project by stating that a certain goal was reached, to measure the impact of an activity in community dynamics is more challenging. Thus, find your way to monitor what happens ‘around the project’. For instance, you can elaborate on a strategy able to prove that not only these students are learning how to use new software, but also that by acquiring a new skill the quality of their lives is somehow improving. By designing a monitoring strategy able to assess outcomes and impacts, you will succeed in proving to your donor that the implemented activities will have a positive, long-term effect in the community. Further, you can draw on the results of your monitoring practice to design new follow-up projects or to ensure potential new donors on the NGO’s capacity to proactively engage with real problems and positively affect the lives of those you and with whom you are working.
M&E is way to make the activities of your NGO transparent and easy to account for, and this will allow donors to better understand what their investrment is paying for. If you don't meet your goals, this should be stated clearly-- as it allows you to redefine your goals and figure out how to overcome the challenges you face. M&E provides insites to communicate with your donor and the general public throughout the implementation of the project. This could lead to more funds to overcome issues such as staffing or political hurdles-- or perhaps a different use of current resources to more efficiently push for improvement.
At Zerion, we see the great need for powerful, yet easy-to-use monitoring and evaluation apps for NGOs, heallthcare, engineering and educational organizations. But we also understand that these mobile data collection apps are not just a product, but a tool to better the world, help enrich lives, and let your organization focus on what it was created for.
About Ryan Coleman
Ryan Coleman is the VP of Sales at Zerion and works directly with enterprise deployments around the world. A former resident of San Diego, California, Ryan enjoys sunsets and photographing the coast. If you have any questions about improving your business processes, he would love to hear from you!