“The ability to measure the impact of our work is an imperative for the organization and for those we serve.” So explained JDC’s CEO Alan Gill, when asked about JDC’s new Global Policy on Impact Measurement and Evaluation (M&E).
Officially approved by the Board of Directors in October 2012, the new Global Policy will strengthen impact-oriented program design and foster a culture of evidence-driven management across the entire JDC.
The Global Policy has its roots in JDC’s Impact Measurement Forum which began to meet in January 2011. The Forum brought together representatives from the different JDC divisions around the world to discuss ways to advance impact measurement in the organization, and was led by senior staff from New York headquarters with professional support from MJB.
It was natural, Gill said, for JDC to turn to the Institute for support, given its “rich experience in evaluation and impact measurement.”
Over an 18-month period MJB assisted the Forum in developing a Measurement and Evaluation framework—including the formulation of a common outcomes-oriented vocabulary—for all of JDC to use. The adoption of the Logic Model framework was a major advancement in that regard.
Arieh Doobov, JDC’s Assistant Executive Vice President for Planning, explained that “this is an excellent example of how JDC operates globally, by bringing different parts of the organization together. It demonstrates the ‘One-JDC’ approach to our work.”
The new Global Policy incorporates outcomes measurement in the strategic planning cycle of every division across the organization. A key principle is the need to develop an integrated information strategy that takes into account both external evaluation and internal on-going outcomes measurement. These tools are in many cases complementary and should be used in an integrated manner.
Therefore, all JDC divisions will systematically review their programs and develop integrated information strategies, while prioritizing each program by the intensity of the measurement effort.
Every new JDC program will be expected at least to have a logic model, with clearly defined inputs, outputs, and outcomes. Programs with greater strategic significance, larger budgets, broader reach, and longer terms will also be expected to implement measurement, whether via an external evaluation, an internal on-going impact measurement, or both.
The policy’s emphasis on impact-oriented planning and management and on on-going improvement within JDC will strengthen program management and help to articulate more clearly to stakeholders and funders what JDC's impact is on Jewish communities and people in need around the world.
As JDC rolls out its Global Policy, MJB will continue to play a key role in supporting the implementation by developing tools and training modules, delivering training, and providing on-going support and consultation during the implementation of measurement efforts. MJB will also continue to be the professional resource for the development and guidance of the overall strategy.
Another recent development of the JDC M&E project is the idea of developing common indicators to be used across units and regions of the organization. Many programs within JDC’s global operations have similar goals and therefore can use similar indicators for success, despite being geographically scattered and operating in different units of the organization. Adopting common indicators can provide a basis for comparing programs and aggregating findings across the JDC world, creating significant savings in the development of measurement systems, and fostering greater collaboration among different units.
It should be noted that a good impact measurement process requires a serious investment of time and resources. But the investment is worth it, Doobov believes. “As soon as you adopt an impact measurement approach, you start to think differently about what you do. An almost universal reaction from people is ‘I’ve learned something new about my work and what I've achieved.’”
Additional reading: Measuring Up: Creating an Outcomes Culture in the Ministry of Social Affairs