Evaluation Systems

Currently, non-profit organizations do not have a uniform set of high quality performance management tools to use when analyzing data and evaluating impact.  Establishments use basic tools like spreadsheets and databases to follow their results, which can often be time consuming and tedious.  Instead of all independently developing similar software for evaluations, initiatives such as NPOKI (NonProfit Organizations Knowledge Initiative) and LINGOs (Learning for International NGOs) strive to bring nonprofit groups together so they can collaborate with one another, and share past experiences of successful practices and lessons learned.

Non Profit Organizations Knowledge Initiative (NPOKI)

NPOKI was founded in 2005 as a partnership between international health organizations, investors, and NGOs.  The collaborative body centers on performance management technology, offering information management and support systems that are helpful in monitoring projects, examining financial contributions and outcomes, and allowing NGO members to share evidence and data with one another.(1)

NPOKI has several goals that serve as ndicators to monitor its own success.  First, NPOKI strives to improve the value and efficiency of health programs by offering them access to a system of information that is current and easily comparable.  For this goal, the indicator of success is the quantity of organizations that use the system when planning and making decisions.  NPOKI also aims to reduce the repetitiveness of monitoring and reporting systems, and the success is measured by the number of hours and reports on results that members prepare each year, as well as the use of commonly agreed upon measures and standards.  Another objective is to encourage nonprofit organizations to save money and time spent on developing project management tools, and instead increasing users and projects of their jointly developed system.(2)

NPOKI’s management system is entitled MERIT, which stands for Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting, and Integration Tool.  This system is web-based, permitting project teams to establish program indicators that can work within multiple frameworks and effectively record details.  The system is flexible, allowing for authorities to control viewing and editing settings and select their own unit of measure.  The key technological components of MERIT include a “monitoring and results framework, comprehensive indicator pool and performance monitoring plan, easy data input and robust analysis platform, and web-based, secure development platform.”  Through partnerships with organizations, NPOKI strives to extend its resources and shared knowledge to the broader global health community.(3)

Learning for International NGOs (LINGOs)

Similar in some respects to NPOKI, LINGOs is an international association consisting of 45 organizations dedicating to improving human health.  Established in 2005, LINGOs works by providing modern equipment and online courses from various non-profit partners, allowing all organizations involved to improve employees’ skill levels and increase overall impacts.  Private sector groups who wish to influence many different nonprofit programs with their software or courseware can contribute their technologies to this singular contact point.   For example, the Learning Management System (LMS) has hundreds of courses on Leadership and Management Development, Information Technology, Project Management, Stress Management for Humanitarian Workers, Personal Safety, and other helpful areas.(4)  As Marie-Laure Curie (Director of Global Capacity Building on the PSI and LINGOS Board) states,

“By providing us with the resources to learn (better, faster, cheaper), LINGOs has allowed our employees, teams, departments, and country affiliates to measurably improve performance that directly translates into increased health impact. LINGOs’ support was key to our implementing e-solutions.”

LINGOs works in collaboration with other groups to help power initiatives forward, such as the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF).  In May 2007, the NGO project management initiative was developed by members from both of these groups, with the goal of increasing “effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of NGOs by sharing/developing/improving templates, tools, and capacity-building resources in project management.”(5)  Members worked together to foster a set of courses for the humanitarian sector, utilizing virtual classroom technology so that project managers could discuss unexpected encounters, difficulties, and overall experiences with their colleagues around the globe.(6)

These tools assist nonprofit workers by teaching, building, and improving foundational skills that are necessary for dealing with certain situations, therefore improving the overall success of their programs.

Conclusion

Recently formed programs such as NPOKI and LINGOs provide nonprofit organizations with starting tools for metrics.  These alliances of multiple nonprofits create a network of sharing information and lessons learned, as well as supplying helpful technology systems to monitor and evaluate impacts. 

Footnotes

(1) NonProfit Organizations Knowledge Initiative. “About NPOKI,” (2010).  Accessed on 15 June 2010.

(2) Ibid.

(3) “NPOKI Monitoring & Evaluation, Reporting & Indicator Tool.” (7 July 2009).  Accessed on 15 June 2010.

(4) Learning for International NGOs.  “About LINGOs.” (2010).  Accessed on 16 June 2010.

(5) Berg, Eric.  “Initiative Promotes Project Managemetn Among NGOs,” PMI Today, (April 2008).  Accessed on 15 June 2010.

(6) Ibid.