Centre for Development Studies

Qualitative Impact Assessment Protocol for Social Impact Investing (QUIPSII)

December 2015 - March 2016

Principle Investigator: James Copestake

Research team: Fiona Remnant, Max Nino-Zaraua

Funding Body: ESRC-DFID

Total Value of Award: £73,782

Connected projects:

Assessing Rural Transformations (ART)

CDS Themes:

Markets, microfinance and inclusion

Dept. Social & Policy Sciences Themes:

Governance & Policy Design

Overview of the Project

Under the ESRC-DFID funded 'ART' project (Assessing Rural Transformations), a robust methodology and protocol for qualitative impact evaluation (known as the 'QUIP') was designed and piloted for use primarily by NGOs promoting household level food security and poverty reduction through rural livelihood interventions. This should help to strengthen learning and accountability feedback loops for their development interventions. The QUIP incorporates many best practice characteristics of other qualitative impact evaluation methods, including contribution analysis and process tracing. It also emphasises complementarity with quantitative performance monitoring. In addition, it broke new ground in addressing problems of pro-project or confirmation bias, and in promoting transparency (hence auditability) in the analysis of text data.

This follow-on proposal is to help us broaden and deepen adoption of these innovations, following positive feedback on the QUIP from both practitioners and evaluation specialists. While believing that the QUIP has potential to be adapted for use by a wide range of organisations, the proposal is to promote its adoption particularly among impact investors in the field of socially responsible financial inclusion and enterprise development. Impact investment is a rapidly growing field, and its performance also hinges on being able to make credible and cost-effective assessment of impact at the household level in complex contexts that are often subject to rapid change. Financial inclusion and enterprise development are leading areas of impact investment. They are subject to ongoing debate about the potential for market-led development strategies for which better evidence of household level impact is needed.

Intended outputs and impacts

The immediate beneficiaries of the project will be public and private social impact investors faced with the problem of how to address the attribution challenge in assessing the social impact of their work. Improved feedback on the contribution of activities to positive and negative social impact can support (a) short feedback loops through internal learning and operational adjustments, and (b) long feedback through improved wider accountability and better resource allocation. The QUIP will be useful to any social impact investor who is serious about the value of strong social impact evaluation of their efforts to reduce problems of economic insecurity, poverty, injustice and social exclusion.

Benefits will be achieved directly, by seeking out organisations willing to take up and use the QUIP. We will do this by building up and supporting networks of (a) skilled commissioners willing and able to finance QUIP studies themselves, and (b) professional researchers skilled in carrying out such studies. Our longer term goal is to set up an independent non-profit company to drive this work forward on a sustainable footing.

Second, benefits will be achieved indirectly by broadening the range and accessibility of material available about the QUIP (and hence the ideas underpinning it) in order to influence social impact evaluation methods and practices. We will do this by engaging in practitioner and academic debates over how to add to the evidence base for socially responsible impact investment in ways that are methodologically robust.

For further information about the project, please contact:

Fiona Remnant
Tel: +44 (0)7974 910242
Email: f.l.remnant@bath.ac.uk

If you work in the area of financial inclusion or social impact investing please contact: 

Max Nino-Zarazua
Tel: +44 (0)7481 687057
Email: ecpmmn@bath.ac.uk