We are working with several other groups to discuss the possibility of creating shared platforms for the exchange of information on NGOs throughout the world. One issue that has come is what measurement criteria should be used. There is a tendency to quantify everything. This is understandable because it allows for easier comparison, gives the donor a sense of understanding regarding the information he or she is viewing, and is quicker and easier to examine. We have discussed before how we are opposed to exclusive use of these criteria. For one, it often doesn’t provide anything useful. What does a score of 8 on responsiveness mean. What does 4 stars mean? Yes, these are useful and where possible quantitative data should be used but it must be in combination with more subjective measures or a hybrid to be full effective.
One thing we have mentioned is how we would like to incorporate beneficiary surveys into our reports to show how well NGO listen to their beneficiaries. We would like to use a common questionnaire to examine the groups and then use them to compare each other and their own progress. We will try to use number scores, but they will be hollow without some anecdotal support or at least some explanation of the score. Additionally, allowing for explanation means that the NGO is forced to reflect on the results and account for them – something we think is very important.