Monday, March 6, 2017

Partners of the Americas Representatives Attend DC Nonprofit Training

Old Naval Hospital, Eastern Market, Washington DC
Last week, a few representatives from the Partners of the Americas attended the Nonprofit Essentials of M&E aand Communications at the Old Naval Hospital in Eastern Market, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill. 

Key points from the morning M&E session included discussions of cost benefit analysis and the inclusion of discount rate, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), evaluation of the team’s culture, impact valuation measurements, and difference indifference curves.During the time, we learned extensively about cost-benefit equation. They highlighted creating an analysis where the discount rate is taken into consideration. Dan Tsin from the Urban Alliance really pressed the point of how important it was to formalize monitoring and evaluation, even for small nonprofits. Down below is a great example of a cost-benefit analysis illustrated for a constituency of online readers to get engaged in the mission.


This is an example that combines the two elements pretty well from our talk. This is a simple cost benefit analysis of adding bike lanes to a city street in Australia. These statistics can really tell a story, but illustrating them through simple bullet points won’t get a good point across. We were advised to use the online tools Canva and Infogram for designing out clear infograms.

During a formal report, they highlighted the use of difference-indifference curves to show gross differences in impact between implementing a strategy of observing some variable.

This difference-indifference curve shows the relationshipbetween the production of two goods, but can be used toshow the impacts of different strategic plans.

The integration of economic charts to convey this information surprised us. Being able to demonstrate your program’s value through these economic graphs are persuasive to professionals, but may not impact your regular readers. Remember the purpose of these charts are to inform readers about your program's:

“Diminishing marginal utility - The indifference curve is convex because of diminishing marginal utility. When you have a certain number of bananas – that is all you want to eat in a week. Extra bananas give very little utility, so you would give up a lot of bananas to get something else.”

Several case studies were mentioned to provide their points. These included studies that correlated the tactic of providing Kenyan school children free uniforms led to lower teenage pregnancy rates, how U.S students going to college were uniformed about their FAFSA opportunities, and the cost-benefit analysis that Martha’s table did to measure their cost-effectiveness. These studies helped to illustrate the power of precise monitoring and evaluation for any nonprofit.

Quentin Wodon speaks about methodology for proper impact evaluation measurements
The key note speaker was the president of the Grameen Foundation, Steve Hollingworth, who helps to manage the international arm of the Grameen Bank. He reiterated the fact that 800,000 million people today are still chronically poor, and that 1 billion people live without easy access to electricity. Mr. Hollingworth believes that we are experiencing a the problem of nuanced gradation of poverty with this existing poverty, and that this has not helped more recently with targeting impoverished environments with growth strategies.

Even from 2012, this map shows the impact of
mobile money transfers on the market in Africa.
He spoke considerably about the changing nature of development and micro-finance through the introduction of the mobile phone. These devices has allowed to push and pull in data that has shaken up the market quite a bit. This included talking about MPESA, a mobile phone app that is growing in popularity in East Africa. The Grameen Foundation began studies on the annual impact inventories related to the theory of change. They were unsure if the mobile financial tools could provide micro-insurance, enable mobility, or whether it brought costs down? In the end, the group discovered a sizable 2% increase in household income through MPESA.


His final note related to some of what he learned about communicating with your supporters. There were 5 key points:
1) Evidence / impact
2) Emotion
3) Touch the mission
4) Brand Value promotion
5) Donor as subject, not objects

As he stated, “Donors want to have a touch of the mission.”

The second half of the day focused on communication.The first session on communication came from Jose Baig, who just left the World Bank for work in South America. He suggested 6 key strategies for the companies use on twitter:
1) Have a story. Make it clear, make it simple, people will support why you do something
2) Have a strategy. Know who you are trying to target online with your voice
3) Have a goal. Not just we want X amount followers, have a goal that your followers can actively participate in helping you to achieve and keep them updated on the progress
4) Create a plan.
5) Understand your voice. Find the right balance between formality without pushing people aside
6) Get everyone involved. Handling the group’s online voice is normally left up to one individual, but everyone on the team should have an opportunity to contribute ideas to how they want that voice to reflect the organization’s goals.

Jose Baig addressed the audience during the second half of the training

The story of your nonprofit is incredibly important in developing your voice. It should be present in the cover photo, and in the short description on twitter at least a general sense of the issues you are trying to do something about. Moreover, the long term goals of your organization should be updated frequently. The speakers suggested a change to your Twitter cover photo about every 2 – 3 months to encourage participants to return to the page.

Another suggestion they mentioned were Twitter polls. These can be used as a conversation mechanism for connecting with your audience members about certain issues. Mention statistics of progress, and relate them back to your long term goals. These are a great way of iterating long stories into a brief description.

The next session came from the Glen O'Gilvie and Courtnie Thurston from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement in DC. Here, they discussed the contents, strategy, and analytics to study your social media. They mentioned Hootsuite and Google Analytics as popular tools to use. During the speech, one of the speakers assigned listeners with the activity of judging their target audiences online, and strategies for reaching out to each one.

Overall, the event was very educational. They provided everyone a free copy of Impact Evaluation in Practice by Paul Gertler at The World Bank. We hope there’s more events like it in the future!

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