Browse by Theme: Monitoring & Evaluation

By Tom Aston and Jay Goulden

Measuring the impact of advocacy may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Yes advocacy is different, but it’s not necessarily more complex or ‘hard to measure’ than governance or market systems programming, let alone ‘blue marble’ change. We think we’ve made some real progress in this area across CARE, and this blog aims to share some of our insights – and contribute to recent lively discussions across the sector.

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Advocacy and influencing is at the heart of CARE’s program strategy – otherwise we couldn’t achieve our aims of tackling the structural causes of poverty and inequality, and scaling up our impact far beyond the communities where CARE and our partners work directly. But what are the most effective tactics and strategies that CARE uses to influence change? Here’s what we have learned from a recent review of CARE’s most successful advocacy and influencing work.

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By Jay Goulden and Sofia Sprechmann

Virtually all international NGOs count how many people their programmes help: CARE does, and in 2018, our programmes reached nearly 56 million people. But while these numbers help give some sense of the scale of our work, they don’t help either ourselves or others understand the real difference this work is making in the lives of poor and marginalised people. For that, we need to measure the change in the lives of the people for whom we work.

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Many of us start working in humanitarian, development or human rights work because we want to change the world or make our country a fairer, better place to live. But in a world where that work is mostly carved up into discrete “projects”, we often end up being satisfied with so much less. If the project we’re working on meets the targets we have agreed with the donor, if an evaluation shows positive change for those we have worked with directly, we have done good work. But is that enough?

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About a decade ago, the development sector fell into the same trap the financial services industry did in the mid-1990s. We were all seduced by clever people selling clever methods we didn’t really understand. Only, we had a different acronym. Financial services had their CDSs (Credit Default Swaps), we had our RCTs (Randomised Control Trials).

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In August this year, CARE International in Ghana together with its partners – OXFAM and ISODEC – commenced a pilot evaluation of the USAID-funded Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) project, using an innovative approach to impact evaluation called Contribution Tracing. Here’s what we did, and five key lessons we learned.

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In this final blog in the 3-part blog series on Contribution Tracing, we want to show you how an ancient monk, who has been dead for over 250 years, can help us to find data with the highest probative value – in other words, helps us find strong, reliable evidence.

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