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Sunday, 22 July 2007

Outcomes and Development

"Outcomes based funding" is one of the key themes common to grants funders both inside and outside government.

Leaving aside for a moment the difficulties of assessing outcomes in the short term a matter to which little attention has been paid is that outcomes are viewed almost exclusively in relationship to the community receiving the development funding.

What if outcomes from development were viewed in relational terms, if development was understood in terms of mutuality between the parties and communities?

What if we brought into scope the outcomes in the funding organisation and its support base as well as in the receiving organisation and communities? I have in mind NGOs here.

Lurking behind this is an assumption about organisational learning. Any situation of engagement in the development process becomes an opportunity for learning at all sorts of levels. If there are no outcomes in terms of learning by engagement with another community in walking with them for the funding body what sort of organisation is it?

For any development project it suggests that the process of assessing outcomes for the funding organisation needs to be part of the projec development. How can the organisation harvest the learning and the experience of engagement?

(Thanks to Professor Vernon Jantzi from Eastern Mennonite University for raising the issue)

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