Usually if you want to get something done you set a goal. Run a marathon, lose a stone, reduce poverty – that kind of thing.
This is certainly how traditional development projects work. Logframes are full of targets – 500 people attend training sessions, 1,000 families lifted out of poverty, or 3,000 jobs created. There is an obsession with these SMART goals.
As I see it, there are two problems with these targets however ‘SMART’ they look. Firstly there is no sense or indication of quality. Yes, you may get people to attend the training sessions but if the teacher is useless they are not going to learn anything. And secondly, it sets projects up to succeed (if they meet the goals) and therefore qualify for further funding or fail (if they don’t). This isn’t really how the messy business of social change works. Most projects have some successes and some failure and often a whole host of unanticipated outcomes too.
Impact Philanthropy is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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