Resources » Cause » International Development

Event ReportsExternal Databases and ResourcesImpact ReportsTraining and CoursesVideos

Books and Guides

Theory of Change is nothing new. It is not just a donor fad or yet another hoop to jump through. It is an ongoing process of reflection to explore change and how it happens in our context. Yet it can provide a very powerful learning lens which makes us ask ourselves and others simple but important questions about what we are doing and why. By focussing attention on the lasting changes we aim to bring, and reflecting on what really contributes to those kinds of changes, it can help us step out of ‘project activity’ mode, question our assumptions, and focus on what really matters. It enables us to learn from others, build a common understanding of our work and develop clarity in our strategies and partnerships. It provides a clear framework for learning, monitoring and evaluation.

So many people in the development world are talking about ‘Theory of Change’ but many are confused as to what it really means. This guide from INTRAC, written for small and diaspora organisations as part of the Common Ground Initiative Peer Learning Programme, therefore aims to demystify theory of change and highlights a few useful resources for further exploration.

Network of Networks for Impact Evaluation (NONIE) is was formed to promote quality impact evaluation. NONIE fosters a program of impact evaluation activities based on a common understanding of the meaning of impact evaluation and approaches to conducting impact evaluation. By sharing methodological approaches and promoting learning by doing on
impact evaluations, NONIE aims to promote the use of this more specific approach by its members within their larger portfolio of evaluations. This guide from the World Bank by Frans Leeuw, Maastricht University, and Jos Vaessen, Maastricht University and University of Antwerp, was developed to support this focus.

Published by: , , 2009

Topics:

Causes:

The Good Enough Guide helps busy field workers to address these questions. It offers a set of basic guidelines on how to be accountable to local people and measure programme impact in emergency situations. Its ‘good enough’ approach emphasises simple and practical solutions and encourages the user to choose tools that are safe, quick, and easy to implement.

This pocket guide presents some tried and tested methods for putting impact measurement and accountability into practice throughout the life of a project. It is aimed at humanitarian practitioners, project officers and managers with some experience
in the field, and draws on the work of field staff, NGOs, and inter-agency initiatives, including Sphere, ALNAP, HAP International, and People In Aid.

The Good Enough Guide was developed by the Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB). The ECB is a collaborative effort by CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam GB, Save the Children, and World Vision International.

Event Reports

This report synthesises the learning from the first convening facilitated by the Social Research Unit at Dartington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2011 on scaling what works in improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality in the developing world.

These slides summarise emerging lessons from several discussions on how to scale impact convened by the Social Research Unit at Dartington with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They are the product of the brilliance of many experts whose discussions are synthesised in two publications entitles Achieving Lasting Impact at Scale Part 1 and 2.

This report synthesises the learning from the first convening facilitated by the Social Research Unit at Dartington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2011 on scaling what works in improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality in the developing world.

As development organisations, we are all finding ourselves placing a greater emphasis on measuring for results, on looking for evidence of impact, on justifying our effectiveness and on responding to a growing demand for accountability. Development organisations are continually experimenting with innovative approaches to monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

In response to this perennial challenge to get the measurements right, INTRAC (UK), PSO (the Netherlands) and PRIA (India) brought together over 170 participants from 41 countries in Soesterberg, the Netherlands to share their experiences and approaches through case studies and workshops, exchanging ideas and reviewing new initiatives that are being developed. The conference’s overall aim was to contribute to improving understanding and action on M&E within international development. There was a particular emphasis on the capacity of civil society organisations to use M&E for international learning and management purposes, whilst at the same time striving to meet the increasingly complex demands of multiple stakeholders.

External Databases and Resources

TIME is part of Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin. The unit will bring together researchers in economics working on micro-economic impact evaluations, development practitioners, and policy makers in a collective effort to estimate and understand the impact of development aid and investments. TIME will contribute to the global debate on the economic development process and the underlying mechanisms at work. Their vision is to provide strong evidence of what works, so that better investments that have real impact on the development process can be made.

It’s not easy to measure the impact of development research in bringing about positive change. It’s even harder to show how communications efforts, and expenditure, helps to achieve both research objectives, and development outcomes. This section of Research to Action’s (R2A) website aims to offer key resources and insights to help support better monitoring and evaluation of research uptake activities.

J-PAL Europe was established in May, 2007 to expand J-PAL advocacy work in Europe and include European researchers in the J-PAL network. The office also manages J-PAL activities in the Middle East and parts of northern and francophone Africa. Based at the Paris School of Economics, J-PAL Europe works to improve the effectiveness of social programs world-wide by supporting researchers working on randomized trials and disseminating their results in order to provide policymakers with reliable information that can make their policies more effective.

J-PAL Europe is a regional office of J-PAL, a focal point for development and poverty research based on randomized trials.

More than 6400 publications have now been selected by TSRC for inclusion in the Third Sector Knowledge Portal – an easy-to-use online library of research, evidence, and analysis.

It has been developed by TSRC in partnership with the British Library and the Big Lottery Fund, and brings together over 6000 works such as: impact reports from third sector organisations; academic research projects; government studies; and more, in one collection of downloads, links and summaries.

Bond’s Effectiveness Programme, Effectiveness & Transparency, provides practical help for NGOs to prove and improve their effectiveness through tools, insights and support. Five ways the Effectiveness Programme can help:

Health Check: Determine your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses
Impact Builder: Get indicators and tools to measure the effectiveness of your projects
Evidence Principles: Assess and enhance the quality of your evidence
Transparency: Improve trust and transparency through openness
Value for Money: Understand what it means for your organisation

Monitoring and evaluation are essential to judge effectiveness in policy engagement. However, in the complex work of policy influence, monitoring and evaluation can be highly challenging. Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) is working at the sharp edge of Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) own monitoring and evaluation systems to help overcome these challenges. On their website you can find case studies and examples of their evaluations, practical tools and theoretical frameworks and approaches for monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Impact Reports

The Accountability Lab is an independent, non-profit organisation that acts as a catalyst to make power-holders responsible in the developing world. The Lab acts as a sounding board, listening to, analysing and reflecting upon accountability concerns; as an independent interface, engaging relevant actors across contexts and issues; and as an operational hub, catalysing innovative, collaborative and sustainable accountability practices and communities. Through this approach, the Lab bolsters efforts to address the causes rather than the symptoms of poverty, exclusion and insecurity.

Send a Cow works to give communities and families the hope and the means to secure their own futures from the land. Read their impact report to learn more about their impact, how they work, and how they carried out the research.

This report gives an overview of GiveMeTap’s impact in 2013. GiveMeTap is dedicated to providing people in Africa access to clean water and reducing the consumption of one-use plastic bottles in the UK.

Training and Courses

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania’s undergraduate degree program offers business and more — an innovative program that combines business and liberal arts on one Ivy League campus. Social impact courses for undergraduates span areas such as health care management, finance, management, economics and public policy, legal studies and business ethics. A flexible schedule allows students to pursue academic interests within Wharton and beyond.

Wharton’s undergraduate program also offers a secondary concentration in Social Impact & Responsibility, housed in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics department.

Courses include:
– Corporate Responsibility and Ethics
– Health Care Quality and Outcomes: Measurement and Management
– International Business Ethics
– Knowledge for Social Impact — Analyzing Current Issues and Approaches
– Social Impact & Responsibility

Cornell University offers various courses that focus or touch on social entrepreneurship or innovation. The list includes Social entrepreneurs, innovators and problem solvers, Social Justice and the City: Preparation for Urban Fieldwork, Making a Difference: By Design and Leadership in Nonprofit Environments

Videos

Abt Associates President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan discusses how donors have shifted their perspective to determine the effectiveness of their programs from measuring outcomes to measuring impact with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar.

Published by: , , 2013

Topics:

Causes:

This video from Endeva explains the market research process for Endeva’s Solar energy kiosk project in Madagascar using interactive activities to gather information from the local population. Endeva are experts in market research in developing countries, taking an empirically grounded approach to inclusive business.

Working Papers and Research

How to monitor and evaluate advocacy work as part of development interventions is a significant challenge faced by many advocates. So what are some of the possible solutions? Building on a series of papers, conferences, training and learning from INTRAC consultancy work, this paper aims to share and learn from an INTRAC monitoring and evaluation (M&E) workshop held in 2013. It draws on four case studies presented at this workshop and offers eight key points that organisations should consider when designing an advocacy M&E system, as well as an annotated list of resources and reading materials.

This report provides a summary of the findings and activity from the first year of the Impact Programme. It provides an insight into the operations of the programme and the progress that has been made in that time. The report draws together material from all of the programme partners and highlights the main findings that have come out of their initial work – from CDC’s interaction with the market, the GIIN’s most up to date research and the PCU’s (PwC) baseline work. It will be of particular interest to donors, members of the investment community and Fund Managers.

This report from Social Finance UK and the Centre for Global Development presents the findings from the Development Impact Bond (DIB) Working Group. The report explains how DIBs can enable more impact investment in development, by providing a shared platform for governments, donors, investors, firms and civil society to work together to achieve more.

The Impact Investor Project was established in 2012 as a two-year research partnership between InSight at Pacific Community Ventures, CASE at Duke University, and ImpactAssets. The goal was simple: supplant the guesswork and conjecture in impact investing with solid evidence of high performance and, in the process, expose the concrete practices of outstanding funds for use as the foundation for a more sophisticated and successful market.

Impact Investing 2.0 profiles twelve funds who work in vastly different sectors, from microfinance in India to sustainable property in the UK, and have accordingly pursued very different investment strategies and approaches to social impact.Their success across such a broad set of parameters offers many lessons for the industry and beyond.

This paper by Elise Wach from the Institute of Development Studies analyses some of the current approaches and frameworks for evaluating ‘Inclusive Business’ impacts. It finds that while they shed light on the complex network of effects that businesses have and the ways in which some firms are attempting to contribute to development, they are unable to provide information about the actual impacts of business activities. More, higher quality, and less partial ‘Inclusive Business’ evaluations are needed to better enable us to harness the potential for business to contribute positively to development.

This paper, by Anju Malhotra, International Center for Research on Women, Sidney Ruth Schuler, JSI Research and Training Institute and Carol Boender, JSI Research and Training Institute, reviews the literature on women’s empowerment and suggests supporting empowerment both as an end in itself and a way to educational, economical and health development. It begins with a discussion of the various conceptual frameworks of women’s empowerment, and then examines the ways in which women’s empowerment projects have been implemented and measured, ending by stressing the positive development outcomes of women’s empowerment.

Published by: , , 2011

Causes:

This paper from Oxfam summarises a two-year research engagement project with the investment community on their role in contributing to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

This report, by Howard White, reviews the methodological and practical issues in conducting studies on impact, drawing on the experience of the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank. Impact evaluation provides a measure of aid effectiveness, that is how good development aid is at reducing poverty. Critics of aid argue that there have been few attempts to measure its impact. This may have been true in the past, but there is a growing body of literature on impact evaluation.