Assessing Impact: Do We Need to Break the Budget?

Written by: Susan Leibtag, Curator, Compass; Grace Awantang, Monitoring Officer; and Dominick Shattuck, Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Director, Breakthrough ACTION

The development community often strongly focuses on results, which monitoring and evaluation (M&E) processes can support and confirm. However,  effective M&E may be expensive and resource-heavy. They do not have to be.

M&E is important for at least two audiences: the funder and the program team. Social and behavior change (SBC) programs must often fulfill donor evaluation requirements to provide evidence that they have used funds effectively. Programs also want to see those results for their own purposes, to understand both what works and where shifts should be made.

In some settings, an in-house M&E team is not a viable option, and few funds are available for hiring external firms or consultants. But the need to be responsive to data and demonstrate impact remains, so SBC programs must be able to identify and use low-cost M&E alternatives to meet those needs.

To this end, the Compass has created a Trending Topic on low-cost M&E, which offers a list of tools and project examples.