Regardless of whether you are a large corporation, a public foundation, or a community-based nonprofit organization (NPO), monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is crucial in seeing how effective your organization is running. It allows you to assess whether you are hitting your targets.
As an NPO, M&E is important for every stakeholder involved in the operation. It can answer many important questions:
- Internal Operations – Are you achieving your goals?
- Staff – Do you need to adjust the strategy behind your program implementation so that it is more efficient and effective?
- Donors – Did you invest in a reliable organization?
- General Public – Is the issue in your community being resolved through the work of this organization?
While many NPOs understand the importance of implementing M&E, they often do not integrate this into their program structure because:
- They do not have know-how
- Often times there is no room in the budget because many foundations are unwilling to give grants for M&E
- They do not have the bandwidth to implement because there are other pressing needs
To prove that M&E even at a basic level is important and can easily be implemented, let’s use a bun stand as an example of how simple it is to start a simple M&E program. Lao Wang has successfully been selling pork buns and vegetable buns at his street stand for many years now. Recently he has a vision to add sweet bean buns to his menu because he believes, like himself, many of his customers have a sweet tooth. Before he moves forward with this dream, he wants to ensure that there is indeed a market for these sweet bean buns.
M&E does not always have to be a complicated or a long-term project that requires large amounts of data and analysis. Basic M&E can be started with six simple steps:
- Collect baseline data so that you can compare the before and after data
- Set up a small number of GOOD indicators to help monitor your data. Be specific and clear when setting these indicators.
- At every phase of the project implementation, record the progress of the output and outcome
- Regularly step back and think: is the project on the right track? Is it moving towards the goal?
- Seek advice from outsiders and other organizations. Apart from SVG, there are third party organizations that can implement M&E, such as Society Research Institute, Capacity Building and Assessment Centre, NPO Development Center, Rural Education Achievement Program
- Once you have collected the results from each round of M&E, re-evaluate the strategies behind your program and see if any adjustments need to be made.
Now let’s apply these six basic steps to Lao Wang’s new sweet bean buns:
- Prior to selling sweet bean buns, he records how many vegetable and pork buns he sells during two time frames – morning and afternoon
- He records the following information: the number of sweet bean, vegetable, and pork buns sold each day, time of day each bun was sold (morning vs. afternoon)
- Since Lao Wang loves talking with his customers, he asks them for their feedback on the new sweet bean buns and records the responses
- Three months later, he evaluates how many sweet buns he has sold and sees that they are selling just as well as his vegetable buns. (He even has a 4.9 rating on Dianping)
- He asks his neighboring noodle and pancake vendors to help him look at his data and the feedback from customers to see if they have any additional insights
- Lao Wang looks at all of the data he has collected and determines that as the sweet buns are just as profitable and in demand as the vegetable buns, he will keep it on the menu and make no adjustments to the recipe
No matter the type of organization, it is simple to integrate M&E into your organization’s operations. M&E should always be part of your standard operating protocol and even if you start with a basic program, it will expand as your organization grows.
Contributed by Zoey Liu