Knowing what works is what matters

‘Knowing what works is what matters,’ said IFC Chief Economist and World Bank VP Michael Klein, summing up why it is so important to have a debate on the evaluation of donors’ development projects. But there is a difficulty, warned Craig Kennedy, President of the German Marshall Fund of the US (GMF): ‘Serious evaluations will show that some things do not work … and this is not a message that can be conveyed easily to all our stakeholders.’

Evaluation of donors’ development projects was the topic of a seminar jointly hosted by the IFC (International Finance Corporation) and GMF on 2 May in Washington DC. Entitled Measuring Development Impact: A Community of Practice for Philanthropy, the seminar attracted over 70 representatives of foundations, academic institutions and the World Bank.

While IFC CEO Lars Thunell stressed the need for greater collaboration in development projects and for measuring its results, IFC Vice President Rachel Kyte said that beneficiaries in developing countries must have a role in shaping ways of measuring results. Other speakers included Professor Sendhil Mullainathan of Harvard University’s MIT Poverty Action Lab; Bob Strom of the Kauffman Foundation; and Elvis Fraser of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Topics discussed included monitoring and evaluation practices, key issues and challenges, and emerging new directions.

Nick Cotts of Newmont Mining noted an increased interest in the business community in measuring the impact of CSR programmes to determine best use of funds. Companies need to ensure benefit to the communities in which they operate if they are to have a ‘licence to operate’, he said.

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