Regardless of whether you are a large corporation, a public foundation, or a community-based nonprofit organization (NPO), monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is crucial in seeing how effective your organization is running. It allows you to assess whether you are hitting your targets.
As an NPO, M&E is important for every stakeholder involved in the operation. It can answer many important questions:
While many NPOs understand the importance of implementing M&E, they often do not integrate this into their program structure because:
To prove that M&E even at a basic level is important and can easily be implemented, let’s use a bun stand as an example of how simple it is to start a simple M&E program. Lao Wang has successfully been selling pork buns and vegetable buns at his street stand for many years now. Recently he has a vision to add sweet bean buns to his menu because he believes, like himself, many of his customers have a sweet tooth. Before he moves forward with this dream, he wants to ensure that there is indeed a market for these sweet bean buns.
M&E does not always have to be a complicated or a long-term project that requires large amounts of data and analysis. Basic M&E can be started with six simple steps:
Now let’s apply these six basic steps to Lao Wang’s new sweet bean buns:
No matter the type of organization, it is simple to integrate M&E into your organization’s operations. M&E should always be part of your standard operating protocol and even if you start with a basic program, it will expand as your organization grows.
Contributed by Zoey Liu
All well-structured companies and organizations have a system of checks and balances in place. The managing director oversees the day-to-day operations and reports to the board of directors. They, in turn, provide supervision and guidance to the managing director. Nonprofit organizations are no different and almost always have a committee of board members who oversee operations and the direction of the organization.
Earlier this year, I went to a city in Western China to perform due diligence surveys for potential grant recipients. When reviewing one organization’s documentation, I found they recently registered as a non-profit organization prior to becoming registered as a company. This is not common practice. When asked why their board members thought this was preferable, I discovered they did not have a governing body. I informed them that if an overseeing committee was not present, I would need to perform additional financial audits on top of the standard protocols to ensure they qualified for the grants during the subsequent years. The following day, I was performing a site visit at a different organization and the director of the organization was asked to be a board member for the previous organization. Having worked closely with this organization over the years, the director felt it was his duty to use his experience to help oversee the organization. With just a few calls, the board of directors was set up in one day.
I was impressed by the speed and ease in which the organization took action and began reflecting on the different types of board committees I have encountered while working in the social sector. I have grouped them into five general groups:
Who should sit on the board? In my opinion, the ideal board should be comprised of the following individuals:
It is crucial for organizations to have a committee that oversees the work of its leaders and staff. This protects the organization from unethical behavior or a common situation where one influential person retains all the power without any checks or balances. Increased accountability can directly increase the organization’s credibility in the eyes of perspective donors.
Contributed by Sherry Chen
Simon, a new addition to the SVG team and China’s nonprofit sector was dispatched to Shenzhen to cover the second annual China Charity Fair.
After joining the SVG team two months ago, I was sent to Shenzhen for the second annual China Charity Fair. Since I am new to the nonprofit sector, I spent the first part of my time at SVG acquainting myself to China's nonprofit sector. There are so many specialized names and terms unique to this industry that I felt like I was learning a new language. I was eager to attend this Charity Fair to increase my knowledge of the sector. I found that after spending two days at the fair speaking to various organizations about the work they do and attending different events put on by the fair, I now have a much more concrete view of China’s social sector.
The following are my three observations and takeaways from the Charity Fair:
1. Scope of Work – As I walked through the booths at the fair, I noticed that many of the organizations serving a specific target population were focused on poverty alleviation, education, or disaster relief. There also seem to be a growing number of organizations providing professional skills and services specifically to the nonprofit sector like report writing, monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, and IT support. It seems that with time, the merging of these two scopes of work with professional skills and services tailoring to a specific target population will be beneficial to the industry.
2. Collaboration is Key – No one organization is able to solve a society-wide problem on its own. Nonprofits, stakeholders, government entities, corporations, foundations, influential individuals need to pool their resources and knowledge to help alleviate these issues.
3. Learning from the Next Generation –Since the social sector in China is still in a relatively early stage, organizations are not set in their ways and are open to new approaches. The recent college graduates and the younger staff members who may lack in experience are leveraging new technology and fresh approaches to attack many social concerns.
Overall, the charity fair provides an opportunity and platform for people who work in the social sector to gather, build relationships, and start collaborations. It is a particularly great opportunity for those new to the industry, like myself, to gain a better understanding of the landscape of China’s nonprofit sector. The Charity Fair is not geared towards providing a platform for in-depth discussions on the current issues in the industry or forums for specific subsectors to congregate and collectively attack a social issue. It was established as an annual event to give a brief overview of the issues.
As I continue to develop my career in the nonprofit sector, I am very glad I had the opportunity to attend the Charity Fair. I hope that with another year of experience under the organizers’ belts that next year’s Fair will have fewer logistical hiccups and hope that there will be some offerings that offer more in-depth discussions subsector specific. I look forward to increasing my experience in this sector and seeing what is in store for next year’s event.
Contributed by Simon Li