Measuring International NGO Agency-Level Results

International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work in numerous countries and are engaged in many sectors, providing services, building capacities, strengthening systems, and influencing policy and practice. While they are increasingly able to provide evidence of the effectiveness of their project and program-level investments, they are still figuring out how to demonstrate the difference they are making as organizations. In response, many international NGOs create agency-level measurement systems, with varying degrees of success. 

To examine whether or not the building of agency-level measurement systems is a worthwhile endeavor, under what conditions it delivers benefits and what are its potential challenges, NGOs wanted to learn from each other’s experiences. Eleven international NGOs as part of InterAction’s Evaluation and Program Effectiveness Working Group (EPEWG) commissioned this study to enhance their understanding of these systems, what works, and for what purposes. 

The paper describes motivations for creating such systems, the expectations and assumptions associated with them, and the nature of the systems. It includes three brief cases as examples. The paper then analyzes what it takes to build and maintain them, their use, key challenges, benefits, risks, trade-offs, and costs. Based on that analysis, the paper offers a series of recommendations to help NGOs decide whether or not agency-level measurement makes sense for them, and, if so, how to develop systems that meet their needs.