You can’t improve what you can’t measure.Anon
This guidance on measuring impact and developing monitoring and evaluation for African youth clubs has been written by African women leading youth projects in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. We want it to be a resource for other youth workers in Africa so that together we inspire and empower more girls and young women.
In toolkit one we followed Chidi’s story as she set up a youth club for young women in her African neighbourhood, which reflects our experience working in towns and cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Kilifi and Enugu. We saw her identify and overcome challenges so that her youth club thrived and truly benefited the girls she sought to serve.
We saw Chidi facing setbacks and getting exhausted as she struggled against the odds to keep her project alive like many African female youth workers.
Often, when we are working hard and struggling just to do the essential things to keep our youth projects going, we think that measuring impact is a waste of our precious time. Why bother? We know our youth project is effective. We see the results in the young women we work with. We are doing our best and have no more energy to give.
It seems counter-intuitive, but this is when you most need to demonstrate your impact, and evaluate your youth club, so that:
- You can enthuse others by showing the importance and effectiveness of your youth work, recruiting volunteers and donors.
- You can keep yourself and your existing team of youth workers motivated, by seeing that all your hard work and sacrifices have been worthwhile.
- You can see areas where you can improve, or become more efficient, so that you can use your resources (including your own energies) more effectively, focus on what is working well, and stop doing things that are not.
We shouldn’t be obsessed with measuring for the sake of it. Good monitoring and evaluation of our projects allow us to:
- Plan our achievements, including improving them (plan and grow)
- Monitor and evaluate our achievements and failures (know)
- Communicate our achievements and failures (show)
So we are going to spend some more time with Chidi and look at how she can demonstrate the impact of her project so that it can go from strength to strength. We will look at tools for measuring and showcasing our impact, as women leading youth organisations in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as thinking about the different people who need to see this. In each section, you will find questions that you can reflect on alone or with others involved in your project, so that you can have renewed confidence in your work with young people and know how to make your work truly sustainable.
You might also be interested in
- Taking a lead role in defining impact | UNDP (undp.org)
- New thinking on outcomes-focused strategy — NCVO Knowhow (ncvo.org)