Assessing Impact, Defining Success

A key resource for anyone interested in the politics of evaluation and evidence, The Big Push Forward  is an informal international network of evaluators and development practitioners concerned about appropriate approaches for assessing transformative development and social change processes. The network was founded in response to a perception of the ‘narrowing’  of what is valued and how success is determined, and of  and the ‘audit culture’ – see here the Big Push Back. In April 2013 they will be hosting ‘The Politics of Evidence‘ conference.

Rich collection of  resources on the “Managing for Impact” portal — about participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation. (Managed by Wageningen University & Research, Centre for Development Innovation (CDI)

There are a number of interesting resources on McKinsey & Company’s site on Learning for Social Impact. While we noticed that there was little discussion of differing world views, political beliefs and values which so often complicate definitions of “impact” and “success” in social change work, the following were of particular interest in planning learning-focused assessments:

GEO Funders Evaluation Report – This report draws on the work of the Evaluation Roundtable to illustrate some of the most salient evaluation topics in philanthropy today. Included is, the latest thinking about evaluation and grantmaker effectiveness,  new models of “emergent evaluation” that emphasize learning, and and the connection between evaluation and knowledge management in philanthropy.

 InterAction’s Guidance Notes and Webinar Series on Impact Evaluation – A helpful set of resources for NGOs and non-profits interested in demonstrating effectiveness by increasing their understanding of and ability to conduct impact evaluation. (See bottom of page for recorded webinars)


A report  by International Initiative for Impact Evaluation on approaches to doing impact evaluation with small evaluations (so when there are insufficient units of assignment to see what difference an intervention has made…)