Evaluation 2018: Speaking Truth to Power

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Revisiting 'The leap from ROI to SROI': The Role of Evaluators in Mediating Power in the Determination of Value

Session Number: 1293
Track: Social Impact Measurement
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Social Impact Measurement, Social Justice, Social Return On Investment (SROI), values
Session Chair: Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu [Program/Social Impact Director - Invest in Wisconsin]
Discussant: John Gargani [President - Gargani + Company Inc]
Presenter 1: Courtney A Bolinson [Impact Evaluation and Learning Manager - Engineers Without Borders Canada]
Presenter 2: Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu [Program/Social Impact Director - Invest in Wisconsin]
Presenter 3: Molly Clark-Barol [PhD Student - University of Wisconsin-Madison]
Time: Nov 02, 2018 (04:30 PM - 05:30 PM)
Room: CC - 10

Abstract 1 Title: Applying transformative evaluation to African impact investments
Presentation Abstract 1:

Courtney Bolinson is the Impact Evaluation and Learning Manager for Engineers Without Borders Canada, a seed-stage, impact-first investor focused on agriculture and financial technology in East and West Africa. Her presentation will include lessons learned, challenges, and successes in applying participatory and transformative evaluation to impact investing in the African context. Her examples will focus on the unique challenges of seed-stage investors, such as providing evidence of impact (or potential impact) to funders before robust data is available. Her presentation will also include examples of how EWB has “right-sized” their inclusive evaluation methods for the impact investing context. For example, she will describe how EWB has re-conceived cultural competency and qualitative data collection for funds with diverse portfolios or entrepreneurs with diverse stakeholder groups.


Abstract 2 Title: Applying a SROI strategy within the context of community development financial institutions
Presentation Abstract 2:

Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu is Program/Social Impact Director for Invest in Wisconsin (IIW), a collaborative of four community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in Wisconsin. In her role, she provides strategic leadership and directs social impact measurement and evaluation efforts. A participatory researcher and evaluator by training, Paradiso de Sayu has a keen interest in exploring how diverse community stakeholders identify needs and solutions related to socioeconomic well-being among low-income, minority individuals and communities. Her presentation will provide a case example of applying a social return on investment (SROI) strategy within the context of IIW. From navigating diverse stakeholder expectations for and commitment to the measurement of social value, to recalibrating timelines and possible outcomes, to negotiating how to integrate and communicate results stemming from the use of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, Paradiso de Sayu will explore her role as an evaluator within the context of this dynamic process.


Abstract 3 Title: Reflections in Context: The results of a survey and interviews with professional evaluators
Presentation Abstract 3:

Molly Clark-Barol is a graduate student completing a joint PhD in Human Ecology and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the interplay between power, knowledge production, and accountability in international development. In this panel, she will present the results of her MSc thesis research, which analyzes the results of a survey and semi-structured interviews with evaluators (including SIM TIG members) on their experiences balancing stakeholder perspectives, the challenges and opportunities of working in a field characterized by multiple professional and institutional logics, and best practices and lessons learned. This research will situate Rebecca Paradiso de Sayu and Courtney Bolinson’s in-depth reflections in the broader professional context.


Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

This interactive panel explores the unique role evaluators play in mediating power dynamics in the social impact measurement of innovative finance and market-based interventions. Our starting place, as argued in Gargani (2017, The Leap from ROI to SROI: Farther than Expected?) is that finance-inspired evaluation methods, such as Social Return on Investment (SROI), require an awareness of differing stakeholder preferences in order to produce valid results. While technical knowledge of these methods is critical, so too are a range of non-technical competencies, which enable evaluators to surface diverse preferences and mediate power dynamics in ways that advance understanding, learning, and action. To frame the session, Dr. Gargani will summarize his 2017 paper. Next, panelists will share lessons learned in domestic and international contexts, as well as the results of a survey of evaluators on negotiating power dynamics and competing ideas about value. Finally, Dr. Gargani will moderate an audience-led discussion.



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Cancellation Policy: Refunds less a $50 fee will be granted for requests received in writing prior to 11:59 PM EDT October 8, 2018. Email cancellation requests to registration@eval.org. All refunds are processed after the meeting. After October 8, 2018 all sales are final. For Evaluation 2018, international attendees and presenters who encounter complications due to the international travel environment will have up to 30 days after the event to request a refund and submit appropriate documentation. No administrative fee will apply for the international requests.