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Projects aimed at solving social problems are very popular in the modern world. As a rule, they are carried out by non-profit organizations and financed by charitable foundations, commercial structures, and government authorities. It is clear that donors (as funding organizations are usually called) want to know how effectively the allocated funds were spent. This is not about banal financial control, but about what products, results and impact were obtained. Typically, both internal and external assessments are used to achieve this result.

Monitoring and evaluation are usually perceived as a single activity. Over the past quarter century, the abbreviation M&E has become familiar to those organizations that receive grants and carry out projects aimed at solving social problems at the expense of donor funds. The main purpose of M&E is to provide sufficient, reliable, reliable and timely information for making management decisions.

The main question that monitoring and evaluation jointly answer is: “Is the activity successful?” In other words, monitoring and evaluation is a way to obtain the best possible quality information in order to make the right decision. For example, a decision to adjust the work to complete a project. Or a decision to continue financial support for the project.

Evaluation is a broader concept than monitoring, since it is based on the results of monitoring and is used at the most important stages of activity, as well as in case of serious difficulties. Monitoring and evaluation are complementary activities.

However, monitoring and evaluation can also be used separately. Monitoring is used to describe the process of an activity. For programs and projects, it provides information to determine whether the project's work is in accordance with plans or not. Monitoring answers the question: “What? How many? When? Where?".

The monitoring process involves a procedure of regular (at predetermined time intervals) measurements, and its results are used to improve the execution of a program or project. Monitoring is also used without evaluation, that is, it may not be based on the conclusions of the evaluation and may not end with an evaluation. It has a number of limitations: it does not explain why a successful result was obtained or why the plan was not implemented. Some results are difficult or even impossible to measure directly and are ultimately only part of the information needed to make decisions. Monitoring, as a rule, is carried out by the project implementers themselves.

The main question that the assessment answers is: “Why?” Why did the project succeed or fail? Achieve planned results?

The main difference between monitoring and evaluation is the timing of application and purpose. Monitoring is aimed at continuously tracking events and processes, while evaluation is carried out at a certain point in time to find out how effectively a certain process was carried out and what changes it led to. Monitoring data is usually used by management for further implementation of the project, as well as tracking intermediate results, expenditure of budget funds, and compliance with accepted procedures. The results of an evaluation (e.g. mid-term) can also be used during project implementation, but evaluations are typically less frequent and focus on broader changes, requiring methodological precision in the analysis of parameters such as impact and relevance of the impact on the problem.

Monitoring and evaluation are usually carried out by the team that carries out the social project. In some cases, such teams have a member of staff who is responsible for M&E. But very often, according to the donor, this is not enough. For a more objective assessment, external experts who did not participate in the project are invited.

M&E is a complex and quite complex activity. The monitoring and evaluation specialist needs to have a good knowledge and ability to use M&E methods, which typically come from sociology. You need to understand which method will allow you to obtain information important for conclusions and recommendations in relation to each specific project. And this only comes with experience. Social project evaluation work requires good communication skills and the ability to be objective.

In the Russian non-profit grant-making organization Southern Regional Resource Center (SRRC), from 2001 to 2013, I was involved in the assessment of social projects that the SRRC supported with grants. I received my first professional certificate in the field of M&E in the fall of 2001. In Ukraine, since 2015, I have carried out external assessments of projects commissioned by several dozen organizations: International Organization for Migration, United Nations Development Program, International Renaissance Foundation, Resuscitation Package of Reforms coalition, Kindermissionswerk „Die Sternsinger" and others. The interest of foreign donors in supporting social projects in Ukraine remains high. This means there is a demand for qualified M&E specialists.

In addition, the development of M&E systems for various organizations is becoming an increasingly popular service. Such a system is an individual set of performance indicators for each organization and a detailed description of methods for collecting information to fill out the indicators. More and more Ukrainian non-profit organizations, working on different projects with the support of different donors, want to see the overall, summarized results of their work.

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