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Santa Cruz International Meet Up Mar 10
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Santa Cruz International Meet Up Mar 10


Overview of Firelight’s Foundation's M&E training approach for grassroots organizations

Overview of Firelight’s Foundation's M&E training approach for grassroots organizations

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  • to interact with fellow participants
    focus on sharing experiences and problem-solving
  • Baggage exists – inaccessibility of M&E paradigm
  • M&E – research discipline, project-based
    Example: Would YOU know how to measure % of children age 6-59 months below -2 z score wt/ht?
  • by supporting organizational development
    Where they are - i.e. having realistic and appropriate expectations depending on the capacity level of a partner
  • Impact - such a loaded & over-used word
    communities can see ‘impact’ even if it’s difficult to describe…
    It’s their impact & success - not ours
  • This slide shows the trade-offs in cost and complexity among different methods of data collection. Can also think of M&E as regular/routine (part of everyday duties such as beneficiary records) or special/periodic (which require additional time, resources, planning such as household surveys)
    Consider the level of financial/human resources available.
    The effort expended should match the improvement in decision-making.
  • FLF made strategic decision to let small CBOs be. Orgs need to have strategy in place before they begin - middle capacity selected.
    Curriculum is focused on making monitoring activities “accessible” to grassroots organizations
    FLF made strategic decision not to tie our M&E training to reporting requirements. Of course, FLF hopes we will receive improved reports, but this is a long-term goal.
    1 follow-up training in Lesotho.
    The training curriculum is extremely adaptable because it enables any organization to draw upon its current programming and monitoring activities.
    Help grantees tell their own story - build confidence in asking “so what?”
  • it’s about internalizing the importance of M&E – shifts in organizational culture from emergency/crisis mode to planning & reflection
    More important than standardized administrative procedures, M&E activities constitute an informed process of reflection.
  • These are abstract concepts - but understandable.
    Your logic does not equal your partners - other ways of knowing exist that are not empirical
  • M&E is about testing assumptions - that should be the new definition of building “evidence”
    Indicators - completely theoretical concept
  • Case studies, partners’ own data
    Follow-up training focused on design of data collection tools, data analysis and data management, most trainings end at developing M&E frameworks
    Respect that M&E activities must be relevant to grantees’ daily management of their organization
  • Takes $ and people to do good M&E.
    FLF working with in-country META facilitators
    Ultimately, M&E must be a learning/management tool for an organization. Process of transformation to a learning organization does not happen overnight.
    What happens within the organization is the most important factor in “institutionalizing” reflective practices.
  • Confident enough to train rest of organization and communities
    For those with frameworks or experience already - identified gaps and how it could be improved
    We have already observed that the training contributes to preparing grantee-partners to articulate their successes and challenges and to mobilize resources to sustain their programs, ultimately supporting a transition from Firelight funding. Groups have already demonstrated their use of more systematic and reflective monitoring practices, as well as a willingness to engage with local stakeholders based on the confidence gained from having a better understanding of their own programs’ outcomes.
  • 1) The META training workshop was excellent and has given us insight in gathering data from the field and analyzing it before documenting it for various stakeholders. ~ISRL, Zambia
    2) Tsosane “We use these 3 questions in every meeting from here on out.
    1)Where are we now?
    2)Where are we going?
    3)How are we going to reach there?”
    3) From LGGA final report, received 8/3/07:
    The META training has assisted the administrator to be able to gauge the organizational impact in terms of services offered (the field worker was able to account for the services she has planned), how can we expand, to what extend has the finances been utilized and how appropriate were they utilized. The roadmap was the guiding document for parameters setting and self –analysis for actual achievements.
  • Improved/adapted programming - LSC communities with more child neglect cases were targeted for awareness campaigns
    Strengthened fundraising - T’sosane Support Group was 12 out of 120 successful groups for USG grant. Only CBO to receive HR funding.
    Strengthened collaboration/networking – “We discuss all kinds of issues with more information at our fingertips.”
  • Assume nothing – transport (road and water), recordkeeping skills, volunteer staff, basic planning, beneficiary selection, funding insecurity, illiteracy, large catchment areas, financial mgmt the first issue
    each org different, different capacities/types of programming (e.g. orgs with smaller #s of case work vs. community mobilization)
    Not surprising considering output-level results are easier to comprehend and directly related to day-to-day activities. Outcomes is the new part.
  • already overburdened workloads
    Assume nothing – transport (road and water), recordkeeping skills, volunteer staff, basic planning, beneficiary selection, funding insecurity, illiteracy, large catchment areas, financial mgmt the first issue
  • Assume nothing – transport (road and water), recordkeeping skills, volunteer staff, basic planning, beneficiary selection, funding insecurity, illiteracy, large catchment areas, financial mgmt the first issue
  • META Coordinator now a full-time position.
    Future adaptations for training - accompanying organizational capacity assessment, shorter, more frequent meetings conducted by in-country facilitators
    Groups beginning to see links with advocacy
  • Support your partners to sing their own praises!


  • 1. Making M&E Accessible to Grassroots Organizations: Lessons Learned from Firelight’s Capacity Building Program Santa Cruz International Non-Profit Meet-Up, 9 March 2010
  • 2. Presentation Overview • Overview of Firelight’s M&E training approach • Engage in practical exercises to: – Identify guiding principles for foundations’ M&E activities – Identify how key M&E concepts and practicalities can be better understood and utilized by grantees • Sharing Firelight’s outcomes to date, challenges, and way forward
  • 3. M&E? RESULTS?
  • 4. Monitoring & Evaluation: The International Development Paradigm Objectives Statement s Performance Indicator Statements Measurement Methods / Data Sources Goal Strategic Objectives Intermediate Results Outputs Activities Critical Assumptions
  • 5. Capacity Building Strategies 1) Training to build capacity of grantees, e.g. “traditional” M&E skills 2) Special grants to support organization-specific capacity development and learning needs 3) Partner learning exchanges and networking meetings 4) Weekly “Newsflash” to share information with grantees 5) As-needed requests
  • 6. Guiding Principles (official) • Nurture strong, sustainable grassroots organizations. • Meet groups “where they are.” • Build partners’ ability and confidence to monitor and evaluate their own work. • Peer-to-peer technical assistance is most effective.
  • 7. Guiding Principles (unofficial) • Grantees are already monitoring their work. • Perfect beneficiary numbers are not our goal. • Impact is NOT easy to prove due to: • Timeframe • Causality and attribution • M&E activities should never detract from the work at hand, which is serving children.
  • 8. Cost Complexity Existing records (e.g. household lists) Routine statistics Focus groups Specific sample surveys Key informant interviews Observation Special or ’point’ studies Choosing M&E Methods Keep expectations realistic.
  • 9. M&E Training • 43 partners trained in 3 countries by Insideout. • Aims to build grantees’ capacity to measure their own progress in a more meaningful way. • Training is practical and experiential, to apply principles to organizations’ day-to- day work.
  • 10. What did we hope to see? Intended Long-Term Outcomes for Trained Grantees • Organizations clearly identify strategies and intended outcomes of their work. ∀ Monitoring is paired with ongoing, day-to-day work. ∀ Organizations have ownership of their monitoring framework, tools, and procedures. ∀ Management/leaders makes changes in the organization’s programs and activities based on what is learnt. ∀ The organization shares what it learns with local communities. ∀ Reports to an organization’s donors and other stakeholders are a more complete depiction of the outcomes of their work.
  • 11. Making M&E Accessible De-technicalize language. ROADMAP TO MONITORING What are we trying to change? (problem analysis) Where do we want to get to? (goal, objectives) How are we going to get there? (strategy, activity) What do we expect to happen along the way? (RESULTS) OUTPUT OUTCOME IMPACT How do we know we are on the right road? (indicators, baseline, targets)
  • 12. OUTPUT OUTCOME IMPACTACTIVITIES Have the activities taken place? The very first result of an activity. Organization s have direct control over this result. What happened next? Change of behavior in participants. Organization s have less control over this result. So what? Change at population/ societal level. Organization s have very little control, if any. Making M&E Accessible
  • 13. Making M&E Accessible 1. Collect 2. Compile 3. Compare 4. Share Get to the practical. Simple Steps in Data Analysis
  • 14. Making M&E Accessible Offer long-term, ongoing support to grantees. “I appreciate that there will be support after the training, and that we will not have carry on alone.”
  • 15. Training Outcomes Enthusiastic Feedback on the Training Curriculum/Approach INCREASED CONFIDENCE - “We can see we are making progress.” • “The simple words removed the fear and myths about M&E.” • “I used to get indicators, outputs and outcomes confused but now I know the difference.” • “I learnt that we are already doing monitoring, and we can build on that. But [we] need to make the process more systematic.” RECOGNITION OF THE VALUE OF M&E • “I learnt to think about more than outputs – that it is important to think about the ‘So whats?’ of what we do.” • “We need to monitor in order to be able to share our success stories and learn from our mistakes!” • “We are used to only thinking about monitoring at the end of a project – this workshop has changed that!”
  • 16. Training Outcomes Evidence of “uptake” thus far • Conceptualizing programming in terms of results • Monitoring at the core of grantee’s planning - “We were doing things randomly, jumping from here to there. Now we go forward based on what our plan is.” • Using the skills on projects not funded by Firelight - “The knowledge we are getting is helping us improve our service delivery, even on projects not funded by Firelight Foundation.” • “Reporting is easier because you can go line by line, comparing what you have done to what you planned.”
  • 17. Training Outcomes Evidence of “uptake” thus far • Improved/adapted programming • Strengthened fundraising - “[U.S. Embassy] officers were shocked to find out that we are even capable of monitoring and evaluating our project. Remember, we had written our proposal by ourselves – there was no outside assistance.” • Increased engagement with government frameworks • Strengthened collaboration, networking, and advocacy
  • 18. Challenges • Buy-in at organizational level - staff turnover, quality of shared learning within organization, “Some people who were attended were not the right people.” • Management issues within organizations - planning (strategic, workplans), human resources management, budgeting/financial management • Efforts needed to ensure outcome indicators included in grantees’ M&E frameworks • Some baggage/anxiety about M&E remains - pleasing the donor, some still searching for the “holy grail” of M&E
  • 19. Challenges: Reality Check “Absence of computers to process data and store the information so it can be easily accessed.” “We now need to be able to cross the river more frequently.”
  • 20. Challenges: Showing Progress • Lack of baseline data • Data quality issues - verification needs • Interest in participatory M&E with communities • Data management and recordkeeping • Lack of resources to devote to M&E (time, staff, $) What do these challenges reveal to Firelight? Grantees are excited. Grantees are invested. Grantees are “taking on” M&E within their organizations.
  • 21. Next Steps 1. Conduct review of M&E training outcomes. Produce publication on Firelight’s approach and lessons learned. 2. Test revised curricula for training in additional Firelight focus countries in 2010/11.
  • 22. Remember: It’s not about the indicators. It’s about reflection and learning. Good luck in your own M&E efforts! THANK YOU