There are several methods for collecting data. All have strengths and limitations. We discuss:
  • Surveys
  • Interviews/Focus Groups
  • Observation
Using more than one source of data allows you to cross-check – or triangulate – results from one method (a survey, for example) with another method (such as a focus group), thus significantly increasing your understanding of “what’s going on” with your program and the results its achieving.

Photo credit: Rising Sun

Consider:

The type of information you would like to collect
  • Can it be quantified? Or is it qualitative by nature?
  • If it is qualitative, what breadth and depth of information do you need?
  • Are interviews required or are open-ended survey questions sufficient?
Efficiency and effectiveness in getting the data you need
  • Which approach is the most effective, efficient method to collect the data you need? Go here for an overview of types of data.
How you will collect the data
  • Who will collect the data?
  • How frequently will data need to be collected?
  • Do you need repeated access to the same people? Will you have access to them over time? How will you keep track of them?
  • Where will the data be stored (e.g., Excel tool, online database, etc.)?
Guiding questions for planning data collection

  • Will the data you intend to collect tell the full story of the implementation of your Theory of Change, and what change occurred as a result?
    • Are there metrics for the target population, program implementation, and program outcomes?
  • Will the data you intend to collect be useful for making decisions that can improve performance and outcomes?
  • Will the data collection methods get you the information you need? For example, surveys tell you about the magnitude of change, but are less useful for understanding how and why the change came about.
  • Are your data collection methods feasible, given staff skills and capacity?
  • Are your data collection methods culturally and developmentally appropriate for the target population (e.g., age, literacy level, time/availability)?