Changing the way we change the world

How can we make evidence-based decisions…without evidence

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

As we’ve shared before, it’s hard to find evaluations of the work of many WASH organizations, never mind independent ones. Reading a recent blog by Caroline Fiennes, Director of Giving Evidence, I realized another problem. Are we only seeing the good evaluations?  I sure hope not, because many of the ones I’ve read talk about suboptimal results. Or, as Caroline describes in her blog, maybe organizations just didn’t realize other people would be interested in reading the evaluations, or didn’t know where to share them.  It just makes you wonder what other evidence could be better shared to help inform better practices, and how we can help with that.

The beginning of the blog follows:

Are charities as bad as pharma at withholding research?

It’s hard to make evidence-based decisions if much of the evidence is missing, ropey, unclear or you can’t find it.

Charities produce masses of evidence about their effectiveness – it’s how donors can decide between them – but Giving Evidence suspects that much of it is missing (unpublished), ropey (uses poor research methods), unclear (so you can’t tell whether it’s ropey or not) and/or you can’t find it (because it’s only published on the website of an organisation you’ve never heard of: there are virtually no centralised indexed repositories).

Research that is poor or hidden damages beneficiaries in two ways. First, donors and other operational charities can’t see what works and therefore what to fund or replicate, so may implement something avoidably suboptimal. And second, the research consumes resources, which could perhaps be better spent on delivering something that does work.

Read the rest of the blog here.

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