How to Track Progress

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We seek out the best organizations we can find and fund them to do what they do best. These are our guidelines for annual milestones for our grantees.

by Mulago

Sep 15, 2019

We keep reporting requirements to a minimum through the use of concise, well-considered one-year milestones that allow us -- and our portfolio -- to anticipate and evaluate progress. For the most part, these milestones are drawn from information our grantees already have, such as annual operating plans.

Guiding Principles:

  • Stay high level – don’t get buried in the detail. If the detail is necessary, summarize in the milestones and add the detail in an appendix or footnote.
  • Fewer milestones are better than more – stay focused.
  • Pay attention to language; make it succinct.
  • Milestones should almost all be observable or measurable. Sometimes they aren’t (e.g. multi-year relationship building), but the bias is towards observable and measurable.

We don't want a long list of goals. We want the key 2 or 3 milestones in each of three areas: Delivery, Organizational Capacity, and Impact. Be specific and quantitative, the point is to have an objective and realistic way to evaluate progress. Here are some examples:

1) Delivery: Milestones numerating delivery of activities that are core to your mission, e.g.

  • Number of community conservation agreements signed
  • Number of clinics and patients served
  • Number of farmers enrolled in a project
  • Sales volumes of products

2) Organizational Capacity: Milestones that relate to the capacity of your organization to achieve the mission, e.g.

  • Key hires (new COO, etc)
  • Board development
  • Fundraising goals

3) Impact: Specific, quantified and verified measures of impact per the organization's mission. If it is too early to anticipate or document impact, then talk about behavior change. If it's too early for that, describe what you intend to accomplish in terms of creating systems to measure impact, e.g.

  • Reductions in child mortality
  • Reductions in key disease rates
  • Increases in income
  • Reductions in snaring or poaching
  • Increases of a species population

The articulation of mutually useful milestones is a collaborative process, and we usually go back and forth a couple of times before settling on a set of objective indicators to guide the year ahead. The first step is getting a draft set of milestones on paper. If you want more detailed guidelines you can take a look at this document.