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Value for money in ActionAid: Creating an alternative

ActionAid committed to understanding how the concept of Value for Money (VfM) might be used in a human rights based organization that works to empower the most vulnerable and excluded, in particular women, in very remote areas. Through its VfM Pilot Project, ActionAid developed an alternative approach to VfM, building on practice, learning-by-doing with ActionAid frontline staff, partner staff and the women and men it works with on the ground.

Since 2010, donors increasingly require International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) to demonstrate the Value for Money (VfM) of their interventions. The framework was imported from the private sector and usually assumes that the goal of VfM assessments is to save money. It also assumes that the changes that INGOs work towards – which are often influenced by complex factors - can be planned, delivered and measured in an orderly and predictable way.

While VfM practices have proven to be difficult for INGOs to use, the VfM agenda does offer an opportunity for aid agencies to look strategically and more analytically at their work, to relate the costs of their interventions to changes achieved and to understand which changes have most value for different people in the community and why.