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3 emerging trends in impact evaluation


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by Tara Murphy Forde, director of research & impact, Global Partnerships 

It isn’t every day that you get to geek-out with a room full of people who spend their days trying to measure the often intangible impact of small and growing businesses in emerging markets. Each year members of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) gather in Washington, DC to discuss common challenges and solutions for metrics & evaluation. This year the attendees included a diverse group of investors, capacity development providers, researchers and entrepreneurs who all share Global Partnerships’ (GP’s) commitment to thoughtful and rigorous impact evaluation. As a new member and first-time attendee, I was struck by the diversity of our approaches yet the shared nature of the challenges we face in trying to understand and measure the impact of our work.

Emerging trends in impact measurement

This year the conference focused on “Measurement in Action,” highlighting the catalytic effect that collective action around measurement can have for the small and growing business sector. In conjunction with the conference ANDE published its annual “State of Measurement Practice in the SGB Sector” report, which uses data and interviews with 30 different organizations to identify and analyze key trends in measurement practice. The following emerged:

  1. The need to balance and align social metrics with financial performance indicators

  2. The need to place greater emphasis on transparency and attribution

  3. The need to develop more efficient data collection and data management approaches

Based on these points, A New Vision for Shared Metrics was put forth for discussion and feedback. While there was lively debate about how, there was general agreement on the need to move beyond the focus on accountability (Metrics 1.0) and standardization (Metrics 2.0) to value creation (Metrics 3.0).

Creating value through impact measurement 

In order to invoke action, ANDE asked each member to reflect on the following questions, which I will take a moment to share here:

What should your organization do to create more value through impact measurement?

What we at GP are currently working on:

What more can we do:

1. Developing a rigorous, consistent, and iterative evaluation practice that is grounded in the existing body of evidence, empirical knowledge, portfolio data, and targeted case studies/impact assessments

1.a. Document and share learnings with investees, investors, and industry peers

1.b. Encourage knowledge exchange among investees to facilitate the adoption of best practice

2. Selecting metrics that matter to our investees and where possible aligning them with IRIS Standards

2.a. Invest in the data collection and reporting capacity of our investees

2.b. Provide feedback to IRIS regarding our experiences with implementation

3. Tackling the difficult yet pressing question of how to quantify GP’s contribution to downstream impact

3.a. Engage in frequent dialogue with other ecosystem actors who are tacking this same question

3.b. Be more explicit about the logic and assumptions behind our measurement approach

 

What does Global Partnerships need from the sector to make this happen?

  • Consolidation and sharing of the evidence base
  • Collective investment in the measurement and evaluation capacity of small and growing businesses
  • Development of information systems and technologies that facilitate accurate, easy, and efficient data collection in often remote locations

Walking away from the conference I was both energized and hopeful about what we as a sector can accomplish in our efforts to create more value through our impact measurement efforts. I look forward to ongoing exchanges and partnership opportunities that may emerge through our activity in the ANDE network.  Stay tuned for updates!


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Blog Tags: ANDE   Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs   impact evaluation   impact measurement   measuring impact   metrics   

Caroline Ashley presents on the Department for International Development’s (DFID) approach to impact measurement during a break out session at the ANDE annual metrics conference. Photo © Global Partnerships.
Caroline Ashley presents on the Department for International Development’s (DFID) approach to impact measurement during a break out session at the ANDE annual metrics conference. Photo © Global Partnerships.

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