Written by Caroline Rucah Mwochi - Executive Director, Western Kenya LBQT Feminist Forum
Is measuring success just another funder requirement?
Funny, I ask this after a conversation named ‘Democratising Philanthropy: Measuring Success’, which brought together ONSIDE Fund grantees and funders. These spaces that bring together key partners who work to create safe spaces and promote gender equality through the intersection of sports and feminism, which for a long time seemed like worlds apart, are very rare to come by. As I ponder this question, I cannot get over the fact that most proposals written have to have either a logic framework or a theory of change, outlining expected outcomes and always assuming positive impact.
“Democratising Philanthropy: Measuring Success” curated a different type of conversation. A conversation that was seeking to decolonize and deconstruct knowledge, its acquisition, its use and its users. We were looking at historical measures of evaluation and how to enhance or replace constructs of monitoring evaluation and learning (MEL). This has been incorporated within the ONSIDE Fund learning grants for example. I believe that the participatory approach to MEL challenges the notions on what is considered evidence, who collects it, how and who uses it. There is also need to document all learning processes, be cognisant of the difference in contexts and the fact that we are in one way or the other a contributing factor to change and not attributing to the change.
How to measure success? What does change look like? Do you remember my question that began this thought piece? Funders have their indicators too. I am going to go ahead and say that in my thoughts, various projects need to work with the communities to customize the indicators to speak to them and the context in a participatory reflective process. Qualitative and quantitative indicators also need to be combined so that they can balance, strengthen and explain each other. For the case of movements, success can not only be measured by numbers and the evidence gathered should be that which empowers all those involved. Language is also as important when showing change. Cultural conceptualization of evidence and the success measured should be prioritized to shift the notion that only funders need to measure success. After all, the consumers of the change are the communities.
To measure success, we need to create room to learn, unlearn and relearn. Taking the shame out of ‘failure’ drives experimentation, innovation and diversified approaches to monitoring, evaluation and learning. Funders need to collectively think, pool together and take risks.
I am going to conclude with an excerpt from one of my poems, “The Forbidden Love by Rucahlitious Carole”, an excerpt that shows that despite risks, what we have is beautiful and we should stand by it.
"When with you, no one else matters It is you I want, no matter what they utter I don’t concur with them, you make me glitter Don’t waver boo, stay tight, don’t splatter Coz it’s you and me against the hate They say its forbidden love"