SIM TIG Week: Bridging evaluation and impact measurement and management, by Sara McGarraugh, Leah Goldstein Moses and Ben Fowler

Hi everyone! We are Sara McGarraugh and Leah Goldstein Moses from The Improve Group, and Ben Fowler from MarketShare Associates. As evaluators that work with mission-driven organizations, we’re excited to talk about how evaluation and impact measurement and management intersect.

Leason Learned: Both require gathering data within real-time constraints.

The Improve Group is an evaluation partner for a USAID-Senegal-funded effort by Compatible Technology International (CTI) to address market gaps along the post-harvest section of the millet supply chain. We work with local data collectors and an evaluation specialist to ensure cultural competence and on-the-spot data monitoring. This means working across time zones to keep up strong communication about what data we are receiving and what we need.

MarketShare Associates worked with a major foundation in 2018 to understand the impact of an accelerator program and direct investments in social enterprises. We found that it was not always easy to capture information from stakeholders, particularly from the private sector. Social enterprises are busy and fitting time in for a discussion with evaluators can be difficult. Without access, however, it can be nearly impossible to properly conduct an evaluation.

Leason Learned: We focus on use—including to refine programs and demonstrate impact for stakeholders.

Evaluation can play a key role in supporting the refinement of business models to support social impact. One way this happens is through speaking to the full range of stakeholders affected by social enterprises. At MSA, we know this can generate helpful information on how a business model is and is not working. Despite the current focus on customer centricity, businesses do not always have full insight into the needs, preferences, and desires of their customers. For many social enterprises, better understanding their social impact is critical to their own operations but also for their stakeholders and investors. Having credible data on their impact can be instrumental in attracting new investment.

The Improve Group’s work with CTI offers an example of refining a program after learning more about beneficiaries/customers. By collecting data on who was buying CTI’s technology and what these customers were doing with their product, CTI learned that its assumptions about who they primarily serve with their product is different than who they hoped for. They are now considering what their key social impacts are, and what they can hope to achieve.

Leason Learned: We’re often trying to assess a change.

The Improve Group’s work with CTI is about asking questions to understand the ways in which access to a market technology changes processed grain yield (direct outcome) and income (indirect outcomes)—and for whom those benefits and changes accrue. The literature is already available that shows the benefits to society when women’s income increases; by targeting technologies in a space that is traditionally held by women—post-harvest processing of millet—CTI is exploring the extent to which this group experiences change.

We’ll talk about these topics and more at our session at AEA 2018—hope to see you in Cleveland!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Social Impact Measurement Week with our colleagues in the Social Impact Measurement Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SIM TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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