Laying the foundations: the role of data collection in the monitoring systems of development NGOs

Laying the foundations: the role of data collection in the monitoring systems of development NGOs

Reviews option for smaller NGOs aiming to develop effective M&E systems

How can smaller NGOs collect monitoring and evaluation data which data is accurate and meaningful? Where does their capacity need to be improved?

The paper

  • argues that the development community as a whole pays insufficient attention to the processes of data collection and analysis that enable organisations to generate accurate, high-quality information at field level.
  • provides some practical guidelines towards the development and implementation of an effective monitoring system.

The paper concentrates on internal monitoring processes within NGOs. It examines the conditions under which accurate, meaningful information can be collected, and describes the potential conflicts between the accuracy of that information and its relevance to different stakeholders such as donors, NGO management, field staff and beneficiaries.

It also explains why these same conditions are essential to the effective implementation of monitoring tools, or participatory approaches to M&E. It examines the implications for external donors and government agencies, and concludes that, in some cases, their desire to impose specific tools or monitoring systems on NGOs in order to maintain control over development processes may undermine the ability of these organisations to generate high quality information regarding their activities.

The paper aims to encourage NGOs to build a framework with effective systems and procedures, within which they will be able to further develop their M&E capacity in the future. [author]

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