Storytelling for Impact and Social Change

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By Yusuph Masanja
Global Alumni Coordinator

Goldin Global Fellows Geoffrey Omony (Uganda) and Lo Ivan Castillon (Philippines) hosted a workshop on the theme of "Monitoring and Evaluation" for the Global Alumni Network. The workshop is part of the monthly Alumni Roundtable series designed to meet the learning aspirations of the Global Fellows.

Goldin Fellows had gathered in January for a session on "Leveraging Partnerships" which was hosted by Global Fellow Eyob Yishak (Ethiopia). Every month, Global Fellows from 18 countries lead sessions based on the topics most requested by peers in the network.  In Sept 2020, Goldin Global Fellows prioritized the following topics for 2021 monthly roundtable meetings:

MEWorkshop02

On Monitoring and Evaluation, Lo Ivan presented a process by which his organization (Positive VIBES) evaluates projects, which entails a five-step model which guides the evaluation process:

  1. Planning
  2. Field survey
  3. Analyzing
  4. Report Writing
  5. Feedback

He also provided an overview of how to develop measurement indicators and highlighted the importance of using impact and outcome frameworks. Lo Ivan concluded by strongly affirming how stories of change (through storytelling activities) collected from the field can, at times, provide significant insights far better than mere survey indicators.

While these stories may not seem as relevant to the measurement frameworks, they may indirectly help to inform projects adjustments necessary for positive change to happen.” —Lo Ivan Castillon, Goldin Global Fellow, Philippines

On the other hand, Geoffrey Omony presented the participatory approach undertaken by YOLRED in measuring success. Since conflict survivors are at the heart of all their programs, a participatory approach helps YOLRED to measure success against their indicators of stronger community cohesion, greater interaction and sustained confidence-building.

According to Geoffrey, this approach is not without its downside. The diverse nature of views from beneficiaries can present a challenge in terms of completing the task with concrete solutions or analysis. And there’s also the danger of dominant views undermining voices of others.

“For this process to be effective, it may sometime require involvement of someone skilled enough in Monitoring & Evaluation." —Geoffrey Omony, Goldin Global Fellow, Uganda

Following the presentations, there was a robust conversation when a Fellow ask “What do you do when you’re driven by the need to always report success because that’s what the funder requires?”  This question is one that many of us working in charitable sectors are familiar with, for which Lo Ivan stated that we should share the real results, which should not be seen as negative but rather highlighted as learning opportunities for project implementors as well as donors.

Towards end of the session, a Chicago Peace Fellow, Annamaria Leon, reflected:

"The storytelling part is fantastic, because we can provide a lot of data, but data doesn't translate well to the public, it does to the funders (the ones who are technically understanding it). But to the public, storytelling is really important. So, thank you—that's what I’m getting from this session.” — Annamaria Leon, Chicago Peace Fellow

The two presentations from Lo Ivan and Geoffrey can be found at this link. In closing, the Goldin Institute Director, Travis Rejman, thanked Geoffrey and Lo Ivan and shared a reflection:

“Monitoring and evaluation is not just a chore we have to do to satisfy grant requirements. It should be an opportunity for us to reflect on the stories told from the perspective of the people we serve. How do we stay true to the aspirations of our community while meeting our responsibilities to the funders?”

As part of the Monthly Alumni Roundtable series, Goldin Institute team members Jassi Sandhar and Naomi Milstein will lead a workshop and conversation in March on Grant-writing and Development.

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