Measuring results of community development
Early in our agency’s history, IAF experts created the Grassroots Development Framework (GDF) to measure the impact of our community development investments in Latin America and the Caribbean. The GDF is a tool that uses qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure results in community development.
To measure progress and identify results in the projects we fund, our community partners report their progress every six months using a targeted set of GDF indicators they select at the outset of a project. This data allows us to trace and measure progress among our investments on a continuous basis.
In business, profits are the bottom line and are easy to measure because they are quantitative. In community-led development, the results include both quantitative and qualitative measures because the goals of a project are ultimately to improve quality of life. These improvements are often intangible because poverty exists not only from lack of income but from lack of opportunity and from barriers to basic services or meaningful civic participation.
The GDF measures and tests both the tangible and intangible results of community development projects.
The GDF’s 41 indicators fall under 17 sub-topics of six main categories:
- Standard of Living
- Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes
- Organizational Capacity
- Organizational Culture
- Civic and Social Environment
- Community Norms
Our community partners track the GDF indicators at the levels of individual or household, the grantee organization, and within the relevant communities. The process helps organizations set goals, clarify achievements and challenges, and learn from the results.
Informing the future of community development
The frameworks helps us measure the impact of community-led solutions to development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean and allows us to confirm the cost-effectiveness of our foreign assistance model.
This methodology allows us to maintain an objective view of our work. When we view the effectiveness of community-led development based on indicators and not perception, we can be more confident about positive outcomes. By using a consistent framework, we can compare results across programs, refine and improve strategies, and share our results in a way that may benefit others.