This study was commissioned by Comic Relief, DFID, Big Lottery Fund, NIDOS and Bond to address the lack of evidence available to support NGOs working in international development in deciding what resources to commit to monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL). The study focused on understanding the full investment that NGOs are making on MEL, the kinds of MEL systems that NGOs have, and how NGOs use and value their MEL systems. It did not test the quality of data that MEL systems are producing or the appropriateness of any resulting strategic or operational decisions, but relied on the NGO self-reporting on how appropriate, accurate, useful and effective they considered their MEL systems to be.
As such, this study should be considered a starting point for a broader discussion between NGOs, donors and funders about the role and costs of MEL at both an organisational and project level. The study used three sources of data: seven case-studies of NGOs known to have invested in MEL; a survey to which 77 responses from Bond members were received; and, financial analysis of 90 project budgets from three Comic Relief funding cycles.