Pressures such as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and the UK Charity Commission now requiring NGOs to report against their core strategic objectives, have resulted in NGOs and civil society organisations making much greater efforts to demonstrate their own effectiveness, as well as that of their partners.
They need to be able to identify the difference their efforts have made, and demonstrate that these efforts are effective in bringing about change. There is also a moral obligation on organisations to understand the implications of their work; to be accountable to those for whom they are working; and to strive to achieve better results.
In spite of a large increase in the production of tools and frameworks to assess impact, there remains a lack of clarity about what ’impact assessment’ actually means, and how it differs from ‘evaluation’. There also appears to be a lack of confidence in organisational ability to carry out effective impact assessments.
This paper addresses these issues in a practicable way, aiming to provide clarity on what impact assessments are, and how they differ from and complement processes of monitoring and evaluation (M&E). It is written for staff and development practitioners working with or for international NGOs or other complex organisations. It considers some of the key challenges and practical difficulties that these practitioners face in carrying out impact assessments; and offers some good practice guidelines.