Of course, this all raises a serious question: What costs are involved with monitoring and evaluation, and where will the money come from?
Experience has shown that a reasonable social-impact analysis accounts for 3 to 10 percent of a project’s budget.
This primarily includes personnel costs. In addition, there will be printing costs for the evaluation report, costs associated with communicating the findings, and possible travel expenses.
In reality, it’s usually the case that no resources are planned for this purpose, which results from the fact that funding providers still have too little interest in cause-and-effect relationships.
It’s clearly difficult without a budget, but if you can spare a few resources, this would at least mark a step in the right direction. There are quite inexpensive methods of data collection and analysis, which we will address in more detail later.
In general, if you’re on a very tight budget, it makes sense to focus on evaluating a small but relevant aspect of the project.
Ideally, you should talk to your funders about the issue – at best at an early stage of the project management cycle! Point out the specific costs and discuss whether these can be minimized. Otherwise, consider together whether there are alternatives. Remember that while data collection is important it must also be evaluated and used. So don’t forget to budget resources for these activities as well! Remember that discussing the issue of evaluation with funders reflects well on your organization’s mission and professionalism.
How to keep your costs down!
- Is the information to be collected really relevant?
- Might the data already exist somewhere?
- Is the sample appropriately sized, or possibly too big?
- Are there more cost-effective data-collection methods?
- What tasks can you perform more cheaply internally?
Realistic expectation management for social-impact analysis
Impact analyses are often bound up with high expectations. On the one hand, those participating in the project want to know whether the project is producing the desired results. On the other, those providing funding want proof of results.
Your expectations should be guided in large part by the amount of resources you have available and the kinds of data-collection methods you’re using.
Without much money to spend, you’ll have to rely on inexpensive – and thus less conclusive – survey methods, the results of which will be relatively straightforward. Accordingly, you should manage expectations cautiously.
How YEA organizes monitoring!
Data monitoring is carried out primarily by volunteers. The full-time project manager compiles the information and processes it.
Project evaluation is conducted by masters students from the local university’s education department. The planned follow-up study, however, is conducted by an external evaluator.
The costs are borne by the grant-making foundation that serves as YEA’s primary funder.