A Focus on Client Outcomes
Several of the meeting’s sessions centered on the recent work of the SPTF Outcomes Working Group, a large constituency of SPTF members whose goal is to develop practical guidelines for credible measurement and management of and reporting on outcomes.
An Outcomes Workshop explored two sets of outcomes guidelines—one for investors and one for financial service providers (FSPs), soon to be finalized by authors Lucia Spaggiari and Frances Sinha, respectively. The guidelines, published in partnership with e-MFP, present practical guidance for measuring client level outcomes,
analyzing the results, and using the findings as part of social performance management. Workshop participants discussed a list of “common core indicators” proposed for use by the entire industry, with the purpose of creating consistent and stable indicators for business outcomes, poverty/assets, and resilience/vulnerability.
A follow-up panel of experts emphasized the increasing importance of outcomes measurement—rather than anecdotes, for legitimizing financial inclusion and drawing investment to the industry. Panelist and SPTF board member Calum Scott remarked: At Opportunity International, we used to rely on
individual client stories as a way of demonstrating client outcomes. I'm happy to say that we've moved away from this way of thinking, and so have our donors. Client stories are not bad but we must demonstrate the effectiveness of our programs in a much more sophisticated and robust way. We need to show client outcomes across our programs—how effective are we in different countries, with different products? What measurable improvements do we see in clients' lives? Increasingly there are funds out there – social investment funds – that we cannot tap into unless we are able to consistently and reliably report on the outcomes of our programs.