Evaluating OurProgress

AJWS has often described our impact in terms of individual grantees: how many lives did an organization touch this year? How did it empower women in a particular community or advocate against an unjust law? How did it help local people raise themselves out of poverty and stand up for their rights?

These stories are powerful, but they are only part of the picture. AJWS's grantees are also changing the world on a broader scale as they work in tandem with other organizations striving toward the same goals. They're breaking down prejudices that are deeply ingrained in their cultures; changing public policy; and swelling the ranks of social movements, as they grow stronger and more vocal and numerous over time.

But until now, we could only tell this broader story anecdotally, because these nuanced changes were so hard to measure.

In 2011, our evaluation tools got much more sophisticated.

We made great strides in implementing a new monitoring and evaluation system that tracks our grantees' progress collectively toward explicit goals. Country by country and issue by issue, we're examining the complex ways that the lives of marginalized people in the developing world are being improved through their strategic work and our partnership and support.

We've established baselines and benchmarks of success to mark the progression of incremental achievements that add up to sustainable, long-term change. Now, when our grantees report their progress, we're asking them to report indications of shifts in societal attitudes, increased unity with allies and peer organizations, and greater protections of human rights by governments.

We're now able to better assess our impact.

Today, we have the tools to evaluate and record not just what our grantees are accomplishing as individual organizations, but what they're achieving together. Not just what they're doing now, but how they are moving our shared agenda forward into the future. Our monitoring and evaluation system is also enabling us to look backward, taking a bird's-eye view and analyzing how our grantees have furthered major human rights gains of the past several decades.

One of the most inspiring examples is Burma, where the work of our grantees and their allies in the struggle for human rights has led to a major breakthrough in 2011. After more than half a century of brutal authoritarian rule, the work of our 30 grantees and other civil society organizations has finally broken cracks in the Burmese regime's campaign of atrocities, with the establishment of a parliament, the release of political prisoners and the first democratic elections in more than a decade. AJWS's evaluation tools have enabled us to analyze our grantees' specific role in bringing about this progress.

To read a detailed report documenting the ways that our grantees have helped bring about the changes occurring in recent years in Burma, click here. (PDF)

Skip to Connecting and Communicating to learn more about how we're building movements for change.

About AJWS

Inspired by Judaism's commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.

About this report

This is a Web-only annual report. No paper, period! This change saved AJWS thousands of dollars that we can now spend fighting poverty and defending human rights. Going online also saved 30 tons of wood and 206,173 gallons of water. It prevented 18,575 lbs of greenhouse gases from polluting our air and kept 23,443 lbs of solid waste out of our landfills! Now that's savings we're proud of.