Four non-profit organisations (NPOs) that excel in the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of their programmes have been rewarded with a total of R1 million in prize money. This windfall is thanks to the MTN Foundation, working with Trialogue, a consultancy that has focused on corporate responsibility issues for over 20 years.
The MTN Awards for Social Change winners were announced at the recent Trialogue Business in Society Virtual Conference (13-14 October) with the MTN Foundation awarding R300 000 each to three NPOs in the following categories:
1. Southern Africa Youth Project, in the small NPO category, for a project of the same name.
2. The JumpStart Foundation Trust, for its Ekurhuleni South Foundational Mathematics project, in the medium-sized NPO category.
3. The National Association of Child Care Workers, for its Isibindi project, in the large NPO category.
An additional bonus prize of R100 000 was awarded to the Association for Water and Rural Development, for its support of sustainable water resources in the Olifants River Basin. This award was for the NPO with the best evidence of advanced M&E practice.
Trialogue Director Cathy Duff said 143 NPOs entered the competition this year – more than double the number of entries in 2019. Trialogue shortlisted 20 entries that three judges reviewed and scored.
The judges were Zulaikha Brey, an economist and M&E practitioner with Trialogue; M&E specialist Asgar Bhikoo, currently working at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation; and development practitioner Kenneth Thlaka, Executive Director of SangoNet.
“The large number of entries demonstrates an increasing acknowledgment of the value of M&E within the sector. Additionally, the quality of the applications has improved overall, although activities and outputs could be more clearly linked to a programme’s outcomes.
“The greatest areas for improvement are the consideration of ethics and the potential for negative consequences, as well as measuring causality and impact,” said the judges.
Southern Africa Youth Project (SayPro)
(Small NPO winner)
SayPro was set up in 2005 to change the way youth think about themselves and their families. The organisation offers a range of programmes by partnering with other NPOs and working with youth in target communities.
It aims to empower 10 000 unemployed youth, with a focus on women, in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. This is done through promoting health and wellbeing initiatives and providing vocational and work readiness training and job placement programmes.
SayPro offers 378 accredited courses that are delivered as learnerships, short courses, national certificates, unit standards (desired outcomes and their associated assessment criteria) and executive development programmes. In 2019/2020, 2 080 young people enrolled.
M&E data is used internally as a management tool to monitor progress and to inform monthly implementation plans. Quarterly reports measure performance, quality assurance and identify improvement opportunities. SayPro uses annual analysis of M&E data to evaluate outcomes and inform future project plans and innovations.
JumpStart Foundation Trust (JumpStart)
(Medium NPO winner)
JumpStart works to transform maths and science education, while also providing work experience for unemployed youth. The Ekurhuleni South Foundational Mathematics project was launched in 2016 with an annual budget of R6.9 million.
The project provides early grade maths support for 15 000 primary school children and 350 teachers in 20 primary schools in the Ekurhuleni South School District, Gauteng. The project supports teachers through formal training workshops, access to online resources, feedback technologies and support in large classes in the form of JumpStart Interns (trained unemployed youth).
JumpStart uses its M&E data internally to review project design and strategy and to evaluate its effectiveness. Additionally, real-time data is used to analyse for quality assurance and implement internal improvements immediately.
National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) for Isibindi
(Large NPO winner)
The NACCW promotes healthy child and youth development and improves the standards of care and treatment for orphaned, vulnerable, and at-risk children and youth in family, community and residential group care settings.
The Isibindi programme (‘courage’ in IsiZulu) was started in 2001 in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis as it affected children. Between 2013 and 2018, as part of the programme’s scale-up strategy, 7 268 child and youth care workers were trained and deployed reaching 1.9 million (non-unique) orphaned and vulnerable children and youth. These critical services were achieved by setting up 448 Isibindi sites overseen and operated by 414 implementing partners, including the Department of Social Development.
“The organisation uses their M&E data well within and outside the organisation and shows an understanding of the need for continuous learning and improvement at an organisational and programme level,” said the judges.
Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD)
(Bonus R100 000 prize winner)
AWARD was set up in 1998 and uses a range of multi-disciplinary, participatory, research-based approaches to build social and ecological resilience. It mainly focuses on the catchment areas of north-eastern South Africa. The Olifants River Basin project started in 2013 and has an annual budget of R12.9 million.
As the project addresses systemic issues within a complex system, AWARD dedicated significant effort to research and consultation when designing the project. In addition, their current M&E has a strong focus on tracking processes, learning and outcomes.
Concluded Duff: “M&E is a key factor in an NPO’s efficiency, transparency and effectiveness. Tracking and measuring, reviewing, and evaluating results all lead to better outcomes for the communities that NPOs set out to serve.
“It’s extremely rewarding that more NPOs are taking M&E more seriously and incorporating it into their programmes. The MTN Awards for Social Change have highlighted this important factor and we so appreciate MTN’s support.”