Around the Institute

More than Clicks

October 12, 2012

Painting the World with Numbers
Earlier this year, Foreign Policy published the Fund for Peace’s annual Failed States Index. Simply put, the higher a country scores on the selected indicators, the greater the risk of state failure. In a letter to Foreign Policy, the Royal African Society’s Richard Dowden questions the validity of using a single score to represent undeniably dynamic cases. The Fund responds by describing its Index as a “broad brush to a complex problem.” A broad brush is often very valuable; but as evaluators, we can’t forget to tell the whole story, the one behind the numbers.

From “Clicktivism” to Meaningful Measures of Success
The Knight Foundation cares about civic engagement in the digital age. Through its brand-new Tech for Engagement Initiative, Knight hopes to motivate folks around the country to address pressing social problems democratically and via digital platforms. In its first report, the Initiative poses a question any evaluator would ask:how will you measure success? While there’s no one standard answer, Knight points to the importance of thinking beyond those abundant website stats (the “clicks”) to get at indicators that actually matter. Needless to say, we’re big fans.

Reviewing Effectiveness
Oxfam GB just rolled out the first set of “Effectiveness Reviews,” which aim to demonstrate the impact of its work by looking at both outputs and outcomes across six thematic areas. Advocacy evaluators may want to check out two reports in particular: the Climate Change Advocacy Programme’s work around the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2011, and the We Can Campaign’s efforts to change behaviors on gender discrimination and violence in Bangladesh. Pretty impressive, p-values and all.