Right-Fit Evidence

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In this image:The IPA Right-Fit Evidence team participates in a tool development workshop. © 2022 Will Sims

Right-Fit Evidence

We advise funders, NGOs, social businesses, and governments to help them be smarter producers and users of data and evidence.

Initiative Section Body

Our Approach

IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence team believes in the power of data and evidence to unlock the full potential of the development and humanitarian sectors. Monitoring and evaluation today is often little more than a burden on organizational time and resources. We are here to fix that. Data and evidence can empower teams to improve their programs, adapt to new contexts, and demonstrate their impact. For us, a right-fit approach is one that maximizes actionable learning and data-driven decision-making, while integrating seamlessly with an organization’s management and project teams.

To support this vision, we help organizations find a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) approach that fits their needs and build the systems, processes, and teams that can make this approach a reality. For implementing organizations, this often means collaboratively developing concrete learning goals, identifying gaps within their current MEL systems, and providing technical support to teams to help overcome their MEL challenges. On the funder side, this means setting lean reporting requirements that allow donors to build evidence across their portfolios without overburdening their grantees or discouraging experimentation and iteration. Through our projects, we seek to build learning organizations that can better serve their program participants and communities across the globe.

Our Work with Implementers

Building strong MEL systems & achieving learning goals

The Right-Fit Evidence Unit works hand-in-hand with implementing organizations to help them address their most pressing MEL challenges. For many organizations, data collection efforts are too limited, providing little to no information about program performance. Other organizations, pushed to prove that their programs work, have developed M&E systems that burden staff, collect more data than they can manage, and fail to support decision-making. Even organizations with credible impact measurements often lack data that gets at why their programs perform as they do and how to improve them.

Our team prioritizes collaboration and sustainability, seeking to build MEL systems that are fully customized based on the needs of our partner organizations, while also adhering to the highest standards of evidence and statistical rigor. We work with organizations throughout the project lifecycle, from the initial design of MEL frameworks and theories of change, through data collection, analysis, and broader dissemination. This support can take a number of forms:

  • Facilitating collaboration between program and monitoring teams to clearly identify learning priorities and develop actionable frameworks for monitoring, evaluation, and learning
  • Diagnostics of MEL organizations to identify key challenges and gaps, and create concrete plans to address them
  • Offer technical support to build the right skills and co-develop processes and systems for collection and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data
  • Support for Communities of Practice, building consensus around research agendas and ensuring that findings are shared across partner organizations and the wider sector

We would love to discuss how to help build a MEL system that works for your organization. Email rightfit@poverty-action.org to get more information.
 

Our Work with Funders

Fostering learning & evidence-generation

IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence Unit supports funders to become stewards of learning and evidence-driven management.

Funders play an essential role in supporting learning and evidence-generation within the development and humanitarian sectors. By establishing rigorous reporting requirements and financing evidence-driven interventions, donors can encourage their partners to proactively improve the design and implementation of their programs. These efforts can increase the efficiency and impact of their funds and accelerate progress towards reducing poverty and improving human well-being.

It can be challenging, however, for donors to stay updated on the latest relevant research and its implications for their investment decisions. Data are often hard to access and interpret, and even data that funders receive from their grantees do not always provide actionable information for funding decisions.

On the implementer side, MEL teams tend to feel overburdened by complicated templates, reporting requirements, and indicator lists, which can distract them from pursuing the most meaningful research questions for their programs. As a result, both donors and implementers often feel unsure whether they are really “making a difference” in the lives of their beneficiaries. For IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence team, there is tremendous potential for donors to reshape the MEL landscape by truly embracing their role as stewards of learning and evidence-driven management. RFE has been working directly with donor organizations to help them fulfill this potential in a variety of ways:

  • Help donors design funding structures and program designs that integrate learning and adaptation throughout the project cycle.
  • Work directly with funder learning leads to ensure that they are receiving the timely and accurate data required to make confident investments in programs and research
  • Evaluate reporting tools, guidance, and templates to ensure that they are supportive of implementer learning, and that MEL teams have the flexibility and technical guidance to use innovative tools (prototyping, rapid iteration cycles) to quickly strengthen both design and implementation
  • Facilitate collaboration between implementers and donors to ensure that they are aligned in their learning goals and have a clear path to address key knowledge gaps and before scaling up programs

We would love to discuss how to help build a MEL system that works for your organization. Email rightfit@poverty-action.org to get more information.


Our Advisory Services

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    Learning Agenda Workshop Series

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    The Learning Agenda Workshop Series (LAWS) is designed for implementers or funders who are in the early stages of defining their MEL approach. Through a series of collaborative workshops, RFE supports our partners in designing a robust MEL plan, starting with a clear theory of change and building to a set of indicators and methods designed to answer key learning questions. Throughout the process, we remain focused on how these future learnings can catalyze meaningful change, whether for an implementer trying to maximize the impact of their work or a funder seeking to build a guiding strategy to achieve their vision.

    MEL Diagnostic

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    For organizations with existing MEL systems, we provide feedback and identify key opportunities for improvement based on our CART principles (Credibility, Actionability, Responsibility, and Transportability). Drawing on key stakeholder interviews, reviews of existing documents, staff surveys, and collaborative working sessions, RFE helps organizations identify the concrete next steps to build a MEL system that serves their specific learning needs.

    Community of Practice Facilitation

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    As an advocate for learning, we serve as a learning partner for Communities of Practice (COP). COPs are groups of stakeholders, such as implementers, donors, government agencies, or social enterprises, working on a common topic and aiming to be more than the sum of their parts. RFE can provide support in two ways: (1) Coordination of a common learning agenda within the COP to jointly answer key learning questions, and (2) Technical assistance to COP members on a one-to-one or group basis. Technical assistance includes working sessions, reflection workshops, and trainings on a wide range of topics—from gathering qualitative feedback to designing evaluations.

    Funder Learning Support

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    We work with foundations and bilateral funders to integrate learning and evidence generation into their strategy and practices, while simultaneously supporting their grantees’ individual learning goals. We offer support on all stages in the grantmaking cycle, from the design of initiatives and creation of shared expectations with grantees during the proposal stage, to defining reporting requirements. Throughout these engagements, RFE identifies specific steps that funders must take in order to make their learning vision a reality, and can offer technical support to achieve the desired outcomes.

    Ongoing Technical Support

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    RFE supports partners to ensure the success of their MEL approach. This may include developing appropriate methodologies to measure indicators, training staff on various topics such as data collection best practices, or helping teams reflect on how to use data to make meaningful improvements to their programs. The intensity and frequency of our support depends on partners’ needs and resources—it can range anywhere from monthly check-in calls, to several weeks of intense technical support, to embedding an RFE staff member in the organization to provide hands-on coaching.

    Bespoke Engagements

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    RFE supports partners to ensure the success of their MEL approach. This may include developing appropriate methodologies to measure indicators, training staff on various topics such as data collection best practices, or helping teams reflect on how to use data to make meaningful improvements to their programs.

In this image:A photo of the IPA Right-Fit Evidence Team. © 2022 IPA
Right-Fit Evidence

Our Team

Right-Fit Evidence

Our Team

Director

Ben Tan

Ben Tan oversees the delivery of a portfolio of advisory engagements for partners who want to better use evidence and data for learning and improvement.

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Director

Kenneth Scheffler

Kenneth Scheffler oversees a portfolio of engagements with donors, nonprofits, and other implementing organizations in IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence Unit.

Read Full Bio

Associate Director

Lucy Rimmington

Lucy Rimmington leads engagements advising partners on the effective use of evidence and data, largely through the development and implementation of “right-fit” monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) systems.

Read Full Bio

Research Associate

Suweidu Abdulai

Suweidu works as an Associate for IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence unit in Ghana. In this role, he provides technical monitoring and evaluation (M&E) advisory to policymakers and implementing partners primarily in the education sector.

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Right-Fit Evidence and Policy Manager, Francophone West Africa

Abdoul-Aziz Adama

Abdoul-Aziz Adama is a Right-Fit Evidence and Policy Manager at IPA Francophone West Africa. He is leading a portfolio of engagements on education.

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Manager

Manuel Bustamante

Manuel serves as a Monitoring & Evaluation Manager with IPA's Right-Fit Evidence Unit in Colombia.

Read Full Bio

Senior Manager

Kate Carter

Kate Carter serves as Senior Manager for IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence Unit. Kate is a social scientist with experience in research, government, nonprofits, and tech.

Read Full Bio

Advisor, Right-Fit Evidence

Laura Sofia Castro Fonseca

Laura supports a portfolio of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) advisory services under IPA's Right-Fit Evidence Unit. She supports country offices on engagements, works on new engagements, and is developing methodological resources.

Read Full Bio

Director

Ben Tan

Ben Tan oversees the delivery of a portfolio of advisory engagements for partners who want to better use evidence and data for learning and improvement.

Read Full Bio

Director

Kenneth Scheffler

Kenneth Scheffler oversees a portfolio of engagements with donors, nonprofits, and other implementing organizations in IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence Unit.

Read Full Bio

Associate Director

Lucy Rimmington

Lucy Rimmington leads engagements advising partners on the effective use of evidence and data, largely through the development and implementation of “right-fit” monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) systems.

Read Full Bio

Research Associate

Suweidu Abdulai

Suweidu works as an Associate for IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence unit in Ghana. In this role, he provides technical monitoring and evaluation (M&E) advisory to policymakers and implementing partners primarily in the education sector.

Read Full Bio

Right-Fit Evidence and Policy Manager, Francophone West Africa

Abdoul-Aziz Adama

Abdoul-Aziz Adama is a Right-Fit Evidence and Policy Manager at IPA Francophone West Africa. He is leading a portfolio of engagements on education.

Read Full Bio

Manager

Manuel Bustamante

Manuel serves as a Monitoring & Evaluation Manager with IPA's Right-Fit Evidence Unit in Colombia.

Read Full Bio

Senior Manager

Kate Carter

Kate Carter serves as Senior Manager for IPA’s Right-Fit Evidence Unit. Kate is a social scientist with experience in research, government, nonprofits, and tech.

Read Full Bio

Advisor, Right-Fit Evidence

Laura Sofia Castro Fonseca

Laura supports a portfolio of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) advisory services under IPA's Right-Fit Evidence Unit. She supports country offices on engagements, works on new engagements, and is developing methodological resources.

Read Full Bio