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Fundación Colunga reflects on challenges in measuring the results of social programs

September 11, 2019
Communications Colunga Foundation

In order to strengthen the quality of the social impact programs that Fundación Colunga supports, the conversation was held “Measurement of results: challenge of social projects in the context of innovation”.

Conversatorio sobre medición de resultados.

During the day, the organizations that are currently developing their programs, backed by the Strengthening Fund delivered by Colunga, were able to learn about two specific experiences of impact evaluation and processes that Fundación Crecer con Todos and Fundación Panal carried out externally. Subsequently, the presentation of these measurements was commented by a team of academics with great experience, composed of: Teresa Matus, Director of Social Work of the University of Chile; Dante Contreras, Director of the Center for Conflict and Social Cohesion Study (COES); and Flavio Cortés, Director of the Society area of the MIDE UC Measurement Center.

Paulina Rojas, Director of the Social Development Program of Colunga FoundationHe pointed out the importance of generating this type of knowledge exchange: “The conversation was a learning space that allowed the organizations know different approaches to measurement and have expert recommendations for this process to be managed successfully. The idea is that add value to the project, being able to compare with other reference standards and promote a process of continuous improvement of its effectiveness“.

Valentina Wagenreld, Director of Planning and Development of the Grow with All Foundation, presented the impact assessment of the program "First LEE", which has already benefited 13 thousand students, and whose objective is to improve the reading comprehension, vocabulary and critical thinking of children from pre-kindergarten to basic room, articulating all actors in the education system (Ministry of Education, teachers, managers, and students). From their perspective, the experience within their organization has been very positive, since the measurement process has opened doors for them to validate their work and allocate funds: “The main importance is that it allows methodological adjustments based on concrete data, because Finally, what is not measured, is not improved", he claimed.

While, Luis Mejías, Program Director of Honeycomb Foundation, stated that the process evaluation allowed them to realize that they needed to make an internal improvement plan, even changing the mission of the organization, which aims to encourage young students to be agents of change within their communities: “Today Honeycomb is totally different. Even I changed, ”he said, jokingly, referring to the great changes they had to generate within their internal operating structure.

The presentations generated a space for dialogue and open reflection between participants and panelists, where the relevance of the choice of appropriate methodologies to arrive at the results was highlighted. In this regard, the sociologist Flavio Cortés He emphasized the impact that other types of measurements can also generate, such as behavioral changes in the beneficiary groups: “One evaluates not only the final objective, but also the intermediate results. Attitudes can be very strong measures in a fluid transit between the microsocial and the macrosocial. ”

For its part, the academic Teresa Matus, wanted to reflect on the importance of rethinking the ideas that give rise to the projects, from there to find new approaches in measurement: “The problems to find other forms of comparative measurement is one of the challenges we have in social sciences. I think it is a matter of specifying the effects of the idea. What can I specifically say about what we do as an organization? And not only by increase. It can also be measured by negativity. For example, make a kind of comparison about what would happen if we weren't doing what we do. These types of evaluations, which I would call intermediate, could also give robustness to the importance of the programs. ”

From another perspective, the economist Dante Contreras He rescued the relevance of a good previous management of the evaluations: “Today there are many people prepared to make impact assessments in different universities and in different regions. Therefore, we should use that tool more. That means going to different universities, knocking on doors, drinking lots of coffees, until someone turns on. And if one offers a type of agreement in which a pair of learning can be generated, both the institutions and the students who do the evaluations benefit. ”

Finally, the meeting allowed us to conclude on key aspects to consider when planning some kind of measurement of social innovation projects, emphasizing that each organization makes its own path to effectiveness and that there is no single formula, but there are dimensions that are shared for all the programs and that reflecting on them will strengthen and give sustainability to the projects.

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