Digital Principles Monitoring, Evaluation, & Learning Part 1: Organizational-Self Assessment Results Are In!

This is the next installment of a 3-part series on the Digital Principles’ new suite of monitoring and evaluation resources.

Part 2
Part 3

Two major components of the Digital Impact Alliance’s stewardship of the Digital Principles include promoting awareness and supporting adoption of the Digital Principles. Since 2015, the awareness building campaign has been successful, growing the community from 54 Global North organizations, to now boasting over 280 organizations based on all six continents. Additionally, the Digital Principles have been included in several procurement processes, referenced at events and conferences, and referenced in strategy reports and papers. As the community reached critical mass, DIAL and the broader community have asked the following: what does endorsement and good use of the Digital Principles actually look like in practical terms?

Taking the three-pronged approach to answer this question, DIAL first introduced the Organizational Self-Assessment in August 2021 to assess organizational use of the Digital Principles according to basic activities of engagement, adoption, and integration. The Self-Assessment is a basic conceptual monitoring and evaluation framework that allows the community to better understand how stakeholders are using the Digital Principles.

The survey was comprised of a list of activities completed in the prior year, with follow-up questions to bolster context. Of 279 endorsers, DIAL received 29 responses, but also used alternative data sources to confirm activities covered under the Self-Assessment framework, bringing the total number of assessed organizations to 61.

All the assessed organizations accurately reflected the general composition of the endorsing community in terms of organizations’ type and region, with the data slightly representative of organizations who endorsed the Digital Principles in 2016, 2018 and 2021.

Ultimately, 47 of the 61 assessed organizations were verified at the bronze level, demonstrating a wide range of engagement with the Digital Principles. Most of the activities at this level were citing the Digital Principles in reports, blogs, social media, conferences, and panels.

23 organizations were tiered under “Silver”, again demonstrating a wide variety of ways the Digital Principles are practically implemented, with the most common activities being trainings to internal staff and responding to requests for proposal (RFPs) with the Digital Principles.

Several organizations highlighted the benefits of including the Digital Principles into their onboarding process. Although the initial endorsement process is commonly pushed by executive leadership, this finding shows that true adoption and integration requires dedication from all staff and partners from the beginning. Additionally, the increasing number of organizations submitting proposals with the Digital Principles reflects the number of organizations requiring adherence to the Digital Principles in issued RFPs (with examples found from Save the Children, USAID, UNICEF, and GIZ) as well as a general desire to use the Digital Principles as support for the project submissions.

Lastly, DIAL found that 19 organizations qualified for Gold-level status with activities primarily consisting of changing organizational policies or procedures. Examples included integration of the Digital Principles into five-year organizational strategies, key projects, RFP submission requirements, and digital strategies; even more exciting, are the early signs of incorporating the Digital Principles into M&E systems.

As a continuous learning organization, DIAL also seeks to improve the Organizational Self-Assessment for future dissemination. Some key learnings in this first iteration include:

1) Low response rate: Only 29 of 274 endorsing organizations responded to the survey. DIAL plans to conduct an after-action review to assess what potentially impeded response rates and ways that we can improve engagement and response numbers.

2) Exclusionary to smaller organizations: Gold-tier Digital Principles endorsers range from large organizations, such as IBM and USAID, to small, consulting firms. Some respondents noted that too many gold-level activities were specific to larger organizations but not smaller ones. DIAL will review activities before next year’s self-assessment round to ensure activities are more inclusive of organizations of varying sizes.

We would like to congratulate and thank all the organizations that submitted responses and were verified at using the DIAL tier system of gold, silver, and bronze.

A list of all 19 gold-level organizations are listed at the bottom of this blog. If your organization is not listed or did not receive the self-assessment survey, you can still access the survey here.

For more information, you can read about the self-assessment design here.

Energypedia ConsultingErsiliaFCDO
Foundation BotnarGIZIntelliSOFT
NoradPSISave the Children

Claudine Lim

Program Manager, the Principles for Digital Development

Claudine first joined the Digital Impact Alliance in October 2017, shortly after receiving a dual masters in international relations and public relations from the Maxwell School and S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University. After working as a Program Coordinator and Researcher for DIAL’s Business Operations, she is currently working with the Principles of Digital Development.

Scott Neilitz

Manager, Monitor, Evaluation and Learning at DIAL

Scott believes that creative innovation and technology have the potential to improve the lives of people in low and middle-income countries. He also believes that through constant and iterative research and learning, we can improve programs and, ultimately, impact. Scott joined DIAL in 2018 as a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Associate.