How the world's biggest donors tackle impact measurement

Over the last few years, donors have shifted their perspective to determine the effectiveness of their programs. From measuring outcomes, the focus has turned to measuring impact.

Donors, though, are still figuring out the appropriate methodology to use for impact monitoring and evaluation.

“There’s the challenge of … should all of the donors use the same framework?” said Abt Associates President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan in a conversation with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar.

Abt Associates is one of the biggest implementing partners of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.K. Department for International Development. Earlier this year, it acquired JTA International to boost its presence in the Australian aid market.

Flanagan said she finds it encouraging that the three bilateral donors are working to find a common ground on impact measurement, by understanding the language each uses to define results and return on investment.

She even noted how the three are becoming more and more alike.

“DfID more recently has shifted from direct country assistance more into implementing partner assistance, where USAID had been there for quite a while. AusAID has a mix,” Flanagan said. “So I think they’re more and more moving to the implementing partner model with rigorous evaluation, with an understanding of what works and what doesn’t.”

One method that Abt uses and Flanagan said donors welcome involves real-time evaluation, instead of waiting until the end of the program to determine whether the activities were effective.

Watch the above video for more of her insights on impact monitoring and evaluation.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.