By Dan Pearson, director of international programs
At Unbound, we take the long view in measuring impact. We aren’t trying to prove the value of our work. Rather, we’re trying to learn what’s working and what isn’t so we can continue to make improvements in how we serve families. Our focus on learning builds trust and opens everyone to surprising lessons that hold the most power for improvement.
We have an incredibly talented team in our headquarters office and overseas that measures program impact and facilitates organizational learning. They’re implementing a three-tiered approach to program evaluation that includes measuring Unbound’s impact at the global, community and individual levels. When this model is fully implemented, our ability to measure impact at the individual level with hundreds of thousands of families will distinguish Unbound as a pioneer in this area.
Each year members of our international programs team visit the homes of hundreds of randomly selected families. Home visits help verify that families are receiving the benefits and assistance we expect and that the families are becoming the primary agents of change in their communities. The home visits are also an essential part of the ongoing formation of our international and project teams.
The time I have spent in the homes of families has changed my understanding of development and my view of the world.
I am humbled by the generosity of Maria, a sponsored elder I visited in Guatemala. I am inspired by the enthusiasm of Maritza, a mother of a sponsored child in Honduras. I am challenged by the pain of Marjorie, a sponsored teen in the Philippines, who lost her mother.
At Unbound we believe in the transformative power of relationships because we experience it firsthand every day. Measuring impact is about learning. And learning can only happen when we have the humility to listen carefully to the families we serve. They’re our best teachers.