SIM TIG Week: Using Multi-Dimensional Poverty Outcomes in Measurement by Heather Esper and Yaquta Fatehi

This is Heather Esper, senior program manager, and Yaquta Fatehi, senior research associate, from the Performance Measurement Initiative at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan. Our team specializes in performance measurement to improve organizations’ effectiveness, scalability, and sustainability and to create more value for their stakeholders in emerging economies.

Our contribution to social impact measurement (SIM) focuses on assessing poverty outcomes in a multi-dimensional manner. But what do we mean by multi-dimensional? For us, this refers to three things. It first means speaking to all local stakeholders when assessing change by a program or market-based approach in the community. This includes not only stakeholders that interact directly with the organization, such as customers or distributors from low-income households, but also those that do not engage with the venture  ?  like farmers who do not sell their product to the venture, or non-customers. Second, this requires moving beyond measuring only economic outcome indicators; it includes studying changes in capability and relationship well-being of local stakeholders. Capability refers to constructs such as the individual’s health, agency, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. Relationship well-being refers to changes in the individual’s role in the family and community and also in the quality of the local physical environment. Thirdly, multi-dimensional outcomes means assessing positive as well as negative changes on stakeholders and on the local physical and cultural environment.

We believe assessing multidimensional outcomes better informs internal decision-making. For example, we conducted an impact assessment with a last-mile distribution venture and focused on understanding the relationship between business and social outcomes. We found a relationship between self-efficacy and sales, and self-efficacy and turnover, meaning if the venture followed our recommendation to improve sellers’ self-efficacy through trainings, they would also likely see an increase in sales and retention.

Rad Resources:

  1. Webinar with the Grameen Foundation on the value of capturing multi-dimensional poverty outcomes
  2. Webinar with SolarAid on qualitative methods to capture multi-dimensional poverty outcomes
  3. Webinar with Danone Ecosystem Fund on quantitative methods to capture multi-dimensional poverty outcomes

Hot Tips:  Key survey development best practices:

  1. Start with existing questions developed and tested by other researchers when possible and modify as necessary with a pretest.
  2. Pretest using cognitive interviewing methodology to ensure a context-specific survey and informed consent. We tend to use a sample size of at least 12.
  3. For all relevant questions, test reliability and variability using the data gathered from the pilot. We tend to use a sample size of at least 25 to conduct analysis, such as Cronbach’s alpha of multi-item scale questions).

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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