Working as a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist or officer for Non-profit organisations

You have just been hired as the Monitoring and Evaluation coordinator at your local non-profit organization, you will be responsible for training new members on how to implement monitoring and evaluation in their programs as well as monitoring the progress of existing programs at the same time. In this article, you will learn about different approaches to monitoring and evaluation, how to incorporate it into your existing programs, and tools that will help you complete your tasks efficiently.

Evaluating programs, projects or operations is an important aspect of monitoring and evaluation (M&E). M&E can be defined as the systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, dissemination and use of information related to results of a program or project with a view to making management decisions. M&E focuses on learning what worked well (and why) so it can be repeated, but also on analyzing shortcomings so that they are not repeated.

What does monitoring and evaluation mean?

It is a systematic process that looks at whether a program or project is having its intended results. It provides information about what works, what doesn’t work, and why. This information can be used by governments, donors, practitioners, clients and communities so they can improve their programs or projects. You will be able to better understand how monitoring & evaluation can make your humanitarian program or project more effective if you understand some key concepts: • What is monitoring & evaluation? • What are indicators?

How do you measure an organisation's impact?

Why M&E? Since its inception, many decades ago, monitoring has grown from a backroom activity into an essential element of development work by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world. The main purpose of monitoring is to capture progress towards a goal or set of objectives that have been agreed upon by all parties involved in an activity or project.

Types of monitoring, simple versus complex approaches

Most people think of monitoring as evaluation, but they are actually two different things. There are several types of monitoring. Simple approaches include tracking attendance at an event or counting participants in a program. Complex approaches involve studying participants’ behaviors and motivations to assess changes in their well-being. Before you choose an approach, think about your objectives and make sure that it aligns with your organization’s capacity.

Why do we monitor and evaluate?

Before diving into monitoring and evaluation (M&E) terminology, let’s first examine why we monitor and evaluate at all. In essence, monitoring is looking back at what has been done, while evaluation is looking forward in a sense – seeking to draw lessons learned from past projects in order to improve future programs. In addition, M&E serves as a mechanism of accountability - ensuring that humanitarian action meets not only its intended objectives but also broader expectations of society as a whole.

What can be monitored and evaluated?

We have broken it down into eight areas. These can be monitored by collecting information either through surveys, interviews or monitoring of activities. The first three are often referred to as ‘hard data’ (can be measured) and last five as ‘soft data’ (cannot be measured in monetary terms).

When do you monitor/evaluate?

It’s important to understand when you should monitor/evaluate your projects. If you’re trying to measure your project, it might be wise not to do so during the first few weeks after launching it. Instead, you should wait until a project has had time to reach its intended audience and begin working as intended.

M&E Tools - which are best suited for Non-profits?

Which are best suited for monitoring humanitarian programs and projects? When is it appropriate to use them? What steps should a non-profit organization take when adopting an M&E tool? Learn how these tools can be used with non-profits in an introductory course on M&E. A basic knowledge of data analysis, statistics, surveys, methods, qualitative/quantitative research is recommended.


This role is essential in almost all humanitarian responses, from major emergencies to longer term development programs. M&E specialists collect information about program performance in order to assess whether programs are achieving their objectives. This information is used both by project staff and by donors to improve project design, monitor progress and evaluate impact.

The role can vary quite a bit depending on their employer’s mandate, but there are several key responsibilities that generally apply across organizations. The primary duty of an M&E specialist is to design or manage monitoring and evaluation activities – from conceptualization through completion. To accomplish their task, these specialists must establish partnerships with internal actors (such as staff members) and external stakeholders (such as program beneficiaries). They also need to create a monitoring framework for their organization’s projects.