SAN FRANCISCO — Last week, Village Enterprise released the results of its randomized controlled trial, which found that its holistic entrepreneurship program — which involved training and mentorship as well as funding — had a greater impact on extreme poverty reduction than cash transfers alone.
In a meeting with Devex in San Francisco, Village Enterprise Chief Executive Officer Dianne Calvi said she wants to set an example in hopes that more nonprofit organizations become evidence based.
But she acknowledged that RCTs are not the right fit for every organization. With growing interest from donors and practitioners in evidence, these randomized evaluations are just one possible tool in the toolkit. So, how do you know whether an RCT is right for your NGO?
Randomized controlled trials can be an effective way to determine the true impact of interventions. For development projects, they need to be carefully planned and prepared, to ensure they can provide high-quality results that effectively communicate why an intervention does or doesn't work — improving aid and development programs for the future.
Innovations for Poverty Action, or IPA, is a research and policy nonprofit based at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, with a mission to create high-quality evidence and turn that evidence into better programs and policies for the poor, is known for its work on RCTs. Experts from the organization spoke with Devex about what organizations should consider before investing in what is considered the gold standard of impact evaluation design. IPA believes RCTs are just one of several monitoring and evaluation options that organizations have, and it recently launched a new program to help groups find the right fit for them.