Data and evidence can be transformative. It can change how leaders solve social, economic, and environmental problems. It can improve and save lives.
Everything we do is focused on amplifying social impact.
For a decade in Asia and Africa, we have supported leaders to deliver results and achieve their missions. Our approach applies rigorous analysis in service to policymakers, non-profit leaders, philanthropies, and international agencies.
We help improve service delivery and funding that affects the health, education, productivity, and wellbeing of millions of people. We are still learning to achieve more.
We analyzed our contribution to our partners’ impact over the last ten years.
We sought to learn:
Beginning in 2011, the IDinsight start-up team designed and ran impact evaluations for government and non-profit partners. They helped leaders answer questions like “Should I expand my program?” and “Which element of my program is essential for impact?”
Our partners had other questions too, like: “What are the greatest needs in this community?” “Is my program operating as planned?” and “Are we serving the most vulnerable people?”
Answering those questions required methods beyond evaluations.
They required analytic tools that could generate timely, relevant findings. In response, we diversified our services.
Drawing on monitoring and evaluation approaches, we developed techniques customized to answer partners’ questions within time, budget, and operational constraints.
Partner: Indian Government
Applying our rapid survey capabilities, IDinsight worked with the government of India to improve the targeting and implementation of anti-poverty programs. This contributed to better health outcomes for women and children in 27 districts across India.
Partner: Malawi’s Ministry of Gender, Community Development, and Social Welfare
IDinsight worked with the Ministry in a flexible partnership over four years, supporting its five-year strategy development and strengthening its Social Cash Transfer Program and COVID-19 Urban Cash Initiative, which reach more than two million people. IDinsight helped improve the targeting of cash transfer recipients, resource allocation to vulnerable communities, data and evidence capacity across six departments, and informed social protection policy strategies as well as their implementation.
Survey data collection is often time-consuming and costly and doesn’t generate results quickly enough to answer urgent questions. To solve this problem, our team created a data collection model using a dispersed network of enumerators and digital systems to remotely train them. With our rapid data collection capability, data can be collected significantly quicker and at a reduced cost without compromising quality.
In IDinsight’s early years, partners reached out with requests for projects in which they needed an evaluation and a report. But as we got to know them and their context, we uncovered other questions and opportunities for deeper analysis and insights that could not just measure, but also improve their impact.
These opportunities often went beyond the scope of our initial project.
Our analysis showed that under some conditions flexible Learning Partnerships unlocked significant impact.
Providing in-house monitoring and evaluation or data analytics support enabled our teams to work hand-in-hand with partners and design useful data collection and analysis tools.
Partner: Educate Girls
Our years-long Learning Partnership with Educate Girls in India has enabled them to reach two-and-a-half times as many out-of-school girls for the same cost. Our services since 2014 have included monitoring, impact evaluation, and machine learning.
Partner: UNICEF, Philippines Department of Education
In IDinsight’s first Learning Partnership, with UNICEF in the Philippines, we provided flexible monitoring and evaluation support. The project increased children’s handwashing by two-and-a-half times and could reach one in four children in eligible schools in the Philippines.
Proximity. Knowledge of the context. Sustained relationships with decision-makers. These are all vital features of IDinsight’s work. Our geographic expansion and recruitment stem from a core belief that our team members must be trusted advisors to have impact.
We have recruited colleagues globally who bring a deep understanding of our partners’ context and challenges.
In our early years, IDinsight co-founders looked for partners interested in trying our model. We set up offices in Uganda, India, and Zambia to serve those early projects. Since then, we have established offices after carefully considering the demand for our work, compliance, ease of hiring, safety and security, and relationships with government partners.
Like our partners, we’re finding ways to use data about our own performance to inform our decisions about projects and partners. Looking back at more than 140 projects over a decade, we’ve seen some have a high real-world impact on lives, dollars, and our partners’ capacities. Others have had modest or no impact.
A state education department was trying to improve learning outcomes for primary school students and needed to decide whether to implement an expensive new programme that entailed new worksheets. IDinsight partnered to run an impact evaluation to inform the department’s decision to scale-up. But when the Director of Education realized it would take months to print the new materials, he moved ahead with scaling up the program before learning whether it was effective. Since our evaluation was no longer relevant to the decision, we categorize this project as having zero or negligible impact.
Looking at the emerging patterns* we’ve found that high-impact projects were correlated with four features:
* Along with collecting data about impact for each project, we collected data on 30 hypotheses about which project conditions would correlate with impact.
We are not in business to stay in business. We are in business to make a difference.
Seeing clear patterns across our projects, we will use these insights to find the right partners and set each engagement up for success at the outset and at key junctures throughout. We will work to ensure that our funding sources permit the flexibility and responsiveness that we know is vital for unlocking social impact.