What Can We Do Better to Measure Impact?
Well, in our last post you heard from Kelly Gannon, our newest M&E Fellow/Program Manager in the field. She has, of course, been doing a bang-up job so far. She has made the rare transition from a Stateside position to a field position. We have had plenty of people do the reverse – transition from the field to one of the many in-home-offices we have around the U.S. and other parts of the world – but she is one of the first to make the opposite change. She has done a great job so far, and I think she is enjoying having some colleagues with whom to work in person.
She has so much that she has to get a handle on right now, but it is going well. She just spent this past week having meetings with each of the impact program teams as well as Leadership. It was a good experience beginning to get on the same page with her colleagues. Some of them brought up some ideas about monitoring and evaluating their programs that we M&E professionals hadn’t even thought of, which is great. I am very excited about what she is doing.
Now that we are comfortable that we have established our M&E approach (we did that way back in 2010) and we have begun to gather data related to every single impact program and are beginning to do so with Leadership, the questions we are asking and trying to answer are a little more detailed than “how can we measure literacy?”. They are more like “how can we measure literacy effectively and ensure that our findings can in some way be attributed to the interventions that our program is conducting?”.
Until the last couple of months, we have not felt that we would be able to effectively conduct comparison-based studies if we tried with the resources we have at hand. As we learn more about how other organizations have done these studies with the same relatively limited resources that we have, we feel more optimistic that we could potentially do them. We will decide how this looks next month when we have Heather Ozhogin onboard. She is our new Data Scientist. Heather, welcome in advance to what is going to be part of your workload!
Another slightly detailed question we are trying to figure out the answer to is this: to what geographic area can we attribute the results of studies we conduct? We have done a baseline survey for Healthcare in three sublocations. The Healthcare program has started their interventions in those sublocations. They are now scaling to OTHER sublocations in the Kuria District of Kenya. Our specific question about this is: do we need to do new baseline surveys in the new sublocations, or can we just conduct our impact study in the three sublocations where we started? I’ll get into what the answer might be a bit more in my next post. Until then…