Four non-profit organisations (NPOs) have been recognised for excellence in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) at the annual MTN Awards for Social Change, first launched by Trialogue and the MTN Foundation in 2019.
Now in its fourth year, the prestigious award continues to recognise NPOs that have been practicing M&E for at least two years and can provide compelling evidence of the positive impact created by their programmes or projects.
The 2022 winners, selected from 53 entries, were announced at the launch of the 25th edition of The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2022 at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg on 24 November.
One NPO in each of the categories – large, medium-sized and small NPOs – received R300 000, and a bonus award of R100 000 was provided for the best evidence of advanced M&E practice.
The winners were:
Large NPO category (total annual income greater than R15 million) – Ndlovu Care Group
Medium NPO category (total annual income greater than R5 million but less than R15 million) – Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (NOAH)
Small NPO category (total annual income of less than R5 million) – OneVoice South Africa
Bonus category – U-turn Homeless Ministries
Introducing the winners:
Ndlovu Care Group
Morongwa Magonga Moses Mashingaidze and Lethabo Sekele of Ndlovu
Ndlovu Care Group has worked with communities in Limpopo for the past 27 years, addressing community development through a suite of programmes centred around healthcare; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); child and youth development; infrastructure support; and research programmes. With a particular focus on preventing and treating malnutrition, the Ndlovu Nutritional Units (NNUs) project ensures that malnourished children are enrolled in a three- to six-month feeding programme with their primary caregivers, supported by visits to the Ndlovu Community Health Care Centre.
The judges noted the robustness of the programme, with M&E processes continuously reviewed and refined to achieve the appropriate outcomes.
“Winning this MTN Award is an honour to us as it confirms we’ve been doing good work in terms of our M&E,” says Moses Mashingaidze, monitoring, evaluating and reporting manager at Ndlovu Care Group. “To us, M&E is not just a tick-box exercise but is part of programmatic processes. We have tried to institutionalise M&E from top to bottom. It is an honour and a pleasure to win this award, which will motivate us to continue strengthening our M&E across the board to ensure that our programmes are relevant, effective and efficient.”
Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (NOAH)
Anne Dobson Nicky Jacobs NOAH
NOAH aims to ensure that social pensioners (elders receiving a SASSA grant as their sole source of income) have their basic needs met. The NOAH Happiness programme operates in Cape Town and provides psychosocial support to around 200 social pensioners from two community centres in Woodstock and Khayelitsha.
The judges said the project is well structured, with clear and measurable outcomes that have been explored and well documented.
Anne Dobson, director at NOAH, says, “We’re absolutely thrilled and deeply grateful to both MTN and Trialogue for creating this award. It’s incentivised us to push harder with M&E, which has made an enormous difference in the quality of the work. It’s driven our understanding of impact and how we use that to make better decisions for the further development of the programme.”
OneVoice South Africa
OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) aims to address critical health and lifestyle issues affecting young people to empower them to make informed decisions about their lives. The focus areas of the organisation are HIV and TB prevention, and enterprise development. OVSA’s Workplace Preparedness Programme, implemented in 2019, sets out to address the skills gap between graduation and employment, through training sessions that target female students and graduates from TVET colleges. OVSA uses M&E data to inform decision-making and ensure resources are effectively allocated.
The judges said M&E forms an integral part of the organisation and the programme and helps to identify deep strategic questions. They noted that the logic of the intervention is well-articulated with clear outcomes, targets and data collection plans.
“Our training team and staff at OneVoice South Africa are absolutely ecstatic to receive this award from MTN and Trialogue,” says Marlijn van Berne of OneVoice. “The past few years have been very challenging for small NPOs in South Africa, and it’s been no exception for us. At times, we weren’t even sure if we would make the new year. Despite this, our team has remained committed to supporting social change in the education and youth sector, and receiving this shows our accountability to those who rely on us for services. It also demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our M&E practices. This award will inspire us to do even better and uphold sound M&E practice, allowing us to ultimately make a meaningful difference in the lives of our young girls and boys, young women and men, communities and partners.”
U-Turn Homeless Ministries
U-Turn Homeless Ministries assists the homeless to transition from life on the streets by equipping them with the skills they need to ultimately seek sobriety, become employed, and live independently in traditional housing. This can take anything from 18 to 24 months and encompasses four phases of growth: change readiness, rehabilitation, work readiness and employment.
The judges said U-Turn’s M&E is responsive to both programme and community-level needs and there are advanced data collection and data management systems in place. They also noted that U-Turn’s ability to think evaluatively, work collectively and experiment with the database and other sources allows for unique insights into the challenge of homelessness that many other organisations may not have. M&E is used to improve and refine the project.
Jon Hopkins, U-Turn Chief Business Development Officer, says “We are thrilled to have been recognised as an NPO with advanced M&E practices. We pride ourselves in U-turn about following a data informed and evidence-based approach as this is the only way to have the best chance of effectively reducing something as complex as homelessness. These funds will support us to continue updating and improving our M&E system to support our current expansion into Johannesburg and allow easier connection to other NPO partners working in the sector.”
A shifting M&E landscape
Asgar Bhikoo, impact investment lead at E-Squared Investments, has been judging the MTN Awards for Social Change since inception in 2019. He says he has been encouraged to see that M&E is seen as a strategic learning and accountability partner, regardless of the size and age of the organisations that apply for the awards.
“I have noticed that the process has become more competitive,” he says. “Across categories, there have been organisations demonstrating how M&E can be used beyond just accounting for spend and programme delivery. There are more submissions that come through that illustrate M&E as a function to support research, and experimentation to prove and validate theories of change and inform programme design.
“Moreover, more organisations are using technology to collect and report data related to programme implementation to inform continuous improvement and evaluative decision-making.”
This year, he was joined by fellow judges Feryal Domingo, Acting Executive Director at Inyathelo, and Jessica Williams, an M&E associate at Trialogue.
Trialogue Managing Director Nick Rockey says that the MTN Awards for Social Change continue to encourage NPOs to elevate their M&E practices and share their learnings with peers.
“Once again, the MTN Awards for Social Change have highlighted the importance of good M&E to NPOs wishing to achieve maximum impact,” he said. “It is encouraging that NPOs are showing an increasing awareness of the value of M&E to drive continuous improvement throughout their organisations, thus better serving their stakeholders.”