Dóchas’ impact? Thoughts on monitoring and evaluating NGO networks.

28/05/2010 at 5:39 am Leave a comment

It is done!
The Dóchas annual report for 2009 is now on-line. Have a read at http://www.dochas.ie/Shared/Files/4/Annual_Report_2009.pdf.

While I am busy writing a second annual report, this time for our funder Irish Aid, I’d like to invite you to let us know what you think of our work of the past year. As always, we are very proud of what we have been able to achieve, with our small team of 4 staff.

At the same time, anyone writing an annual report will know, that it is not easy to find indicators of IMPACT. Easy enough to list your activities, and all the things that went on during the year. But what difference did they make?

For NGO networks, engaging in PROCESSES rather than projects, there is an added difficulty. The impact of our work is only partly determined by how well we do: ultimately, we depend on how our member NGOs respond to our work. NGO networking in many respects reflects the “bring a horse to the water” adage.

INTRAC recently published an interesting paper, specifically on measuring the impact of NGO Learning Networks.

“A more organic way of conceptualising how learning takes place across a network might be a ripple model. Imagine the activities of the learning group to be like pebbles dropped into a pool of water. Different pebbles will generate different ripples, depending on the shape, size and weight of the pebble and how it is thrown. The effect will ripple outwards, initially bringing change to individuals, then to their organisations as they athat learning (assuming that a causal link betweeknowledge and performance exists). This change in performance will hopefully a further impact on others outside the network.”

Keeping this ripple model in mind, it is worth having a look at Rick James’ model for monitoring and evaluation:

1. Learning activities (what done, frequency, quality, relevance, costs)

2. Members’ engagement in activities (use of services)

3. Learning outputs (knowledge generated)

4. Learning outcomes and impact (the learning group objectives)

5. Relationships developed between members

6. Learning for others outside the group

And now read our annual report, and let us know how you think we are doing. For surely, in any organisation, one of the best ways to assess impact, is to ask others what they think that impact is!

Looking forward to your views.


Entry filed under: Development Effectiveness, NGOs. Tags: , , , .

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