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Getting Better at Doing Good: A Toolkit for Measuring NGO Progress

31 October 2019

Man working at laptop

A Cardiff University academic has launched an innovative toolkit that will help non-government organisations (NGOs) to measure the effectiveness of their work.

Professor Gordon Cumming developed the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) resource to encourage charities, voluntary groups, community organisations and social enterprises to evaluate their activities and collect evidence of the excellent work they are doing overseas and in the UK.

The free website can be used on a laptop or mobile phone, at home or out in the field. It includes templates, worked examples, a glossary, interactive exercises and a compendium of research methods from key informant interviews through to focus groups and participant observation.

To make it more accessible, there will be  video tutorials in English, Welsh, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.

Professor Cumming, who is based in the School of Modern Languages, has been working with French, British and African NGOs and volunteer organisations for more than 15 years.

He said: “The importance of monitoring and evaluation for NGOs cannot be overstated. Without this vital insight on their activities in the field, it is impossible for them to be able to measure how successful their work is, or indeed to be able to change approach if their work is actually proving to be counterproductive to the communities they serve.”

“As funding becomes more and more competitive, it is essential that those working in the charitable and voluntary sector are able to evidence the work they are doing – their future growth and sustainability depend on it.”

The idea of the website took hold when Professor Cumming was on a visit to a women’s empowerment project in Kenya. He was asked by the project coordinator, Tracy Pallant of Valley and Vale Community Arts, a Welsh NGO, and by Hub Cymru Africa, a key coordinating body for Welsh NGOs, to create a toolkit. This kit had to be accessible to smaller NGOs which had reservations about monitoring and evaluation.

Professor Cumming developed a three-step process as a way of making M&E manageable - the Full 1-2-3 Method, which is broadly in line with the demands of most donors, as well as a Quick 1-2-3 Method, which is for rapid appraisal and self-evaluation.

Professor Cumming is now using the website to provide M&E training to volunteers on the Welsh Government’s international learning programme. Most of these volunteers are already experienced managers and go on placements to Uganda, Lesotho or Namibia.

Professor Cumming added: “This resource is already proving to be valuable for the NGOs I am working with. I am looking forward to seeing how the toolkit assists them as they work to expand and develop their activities further.”

Tracy Pallant of the Valley and Vale Community Arts commented: “This is a really useful research-based website that is going to transform the way that NGOs across Wales engage with monitoring and evaluation.”

She added: “It is easy to follow and has lots of very helpful templates and worked examples. I have in fact already drawn upon this expertise and the 1-2-3 Method in a recent successful funding bid.”

The website is available to view here: https://thetoolkit.me/

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