It’s in the numbers: Measuring and Evaluating outcomes improve through digital transformation

  • Jim Daniell, The Center for the Digital Nonprofit, NetHope
  • October 1, 2018
It’s in the numbers

For the past several months, select NetHope members have been participating in IDEA (Ideate, Deliver, Execute, & Assess) sessions, a broad umbrella for digital transformation processes offered to NetHope members through The Center for the Digital Nonprofit. The first IDEA implementation pilot is based on Dream, Design, Deliver, a social impact accelerator developed by Microsoft.

From September 5 through 7, I was once again privileged to work with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a NetHope member, in their digital transformation journey. For these journeys, which we call Dream sessions, we look at tackling one of the most important aspects of our collective work in the sector: using data to demonstrate the impact of our work.

From a Measurement and Evaluation (M&E) perspective, we live in a world of log frames (logical frameworks with goals, inputs, activities, and outputs). Yet the reason we all work so hard and care so much is because of our mutual desire to improve outcomes for a better planet. IRC looked at tackling improving Measurement and Evaluation, one of the thorniest issues in our sector. Is there a chance that data science and digital skills could be used to reimagine our M&E practices?

Over the course of three days, we learned new “digital” ways of thinking and working and explored the limits of our current practices. We thought boldly about how we could make M&E of the future more central to our work. We explored ideas like making M&E data gathering so pervasive that it’s invisible on a daily basis. We imagined making a culture where M&E data drives all the right decisions for resource allocation and innovation. We even challenged ourselves to make the process as elegantly simple as the online banking tools we use every day on our smart phones.

Em Fackler, the CIO for the IRC, and one of the two Executive Sponsors from the IRC for the session, shared my enthusiasm for both the process we followed and the ideas that were generated.  

“Figuring out how best to improve the IRC’s approach to M&E has been elusive ever since I started at the IRC in January, 2016,” she said. “With support from Microsoft, Revel, and NetHope, I came away excited and energized about the potential possibilities for our sector. It is so rare to be able to carve away three full days with 15 co-workers to truly DREAM about potential possibilities in this space. I’m excited to see where this takes us.” 

Read more about our past Dream sessions:

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