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All IAF activities are undertaken with the knowledge that they will be evaluated in some way. Grantees are required to report semi-annually on their progress on indicators selected from the Grassroots Development Framework (GDF) which the IAF created to measure the impact of its investment. These results are aggregated and compiled annually into a Results Report. Additionally, independent contractors conduct in-depth evaluations of selected projects a few years after the official end of their grant activities. These evaluations provide valuable insights into grassroots development strategies.

In 2011, the IAF contracted William D. Savedoff, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, to conduct an independent review of its evaluation's program. In his report, Savedoff states that the IAF's approach favors inductive reasoning in contrast to other aid agencies reliance on deductive methods which begin by articulating questions and hypotheses that are tested. The IAF's approach begins with observation and only then are relevant questions identified and lessons extracted. Savedoff goes on to call this a "rich and useful approach".

The Grassroots Development Framework

In business, profits are the bottom line. In grassroots development, a project must generate material improvements in the quality of life of the poor. Poverty entails not only lack of income but also lack of access to a range of basic services (including education, healthcare, shelter and others), as well as insufficient opportunity for active civic participation. The GDF draws indicators of better conditions into a single tool that measures the impact and the results of IAF’s funding. It was created by applying what had been learned from more than 4,900 IAF-funded projects. Since the GDF’s pilot testing, the IAF has offered training in its use to several interested development assistance institutions.

How does the GDF work?

The premise of the GDF is that grassroots development produces tangible and intangible results at three levels: for individuals and families, for organizations and for the community or society at large. The GDF seeks to measure and document both tangible and intangible results. IAF grantees select from a menu of 41 indicators and use them to report their progress toward the goals of their project. Data collected twice a year from grantees (in an easy-to-use Excel chart) is verified by contracted professionals and forwarded to the IAF, where it is analyzed and compiled into Results Report by the Office of Evaluation.

For a one page summary on the GDF, click here.