A case study of a mission-driven organization using MetODD-SDG to measure its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.
In 2018, CERISE and its working group created the first unifying framework that enables mission-driven organizations to track their contribution to SDG Targets. MetODD-SDG gives a list of micro indicators applicable to all kinds of projects and social businesses. Delve into MetODD-SDG’s simple framework to find impact indicators for your organization, aligned with international standards (IRIS performance indicators, initiatives from the private sector: Global Compact, UNPRI, GIIN, SPTF, HIPSO and CSAF). The following article is a fictionalized example of a consultant using MetODD-SDG to identify a set of relevant indicators for, Babywell, a social enterprise specialized in child nutrition.
In collaboration with Babywell’s Executive Director and a Board member, we first clarified the organization’s social mission and its intervention strategy. We made sure to precisely define the problem being addressed, the target population, the “solution” (what the organization intends to do to address the problem), and expected outcomes (what change the organization wants to make)… In sum, we clarified the Babywell’s impact thesis, in order to see how it links with the SDG Targets.
Babywell aims to fight chronic child malnutrition among children aged 6 to 24 months, especially those born into the poorest families in the country. Babywell wants to reduce growth retardation and early mortality rates. Babywell partners with a local company that produces a high-quality food to supplement baby meals. It is delivered through a unique yet secure channel: small restaurants where mothers can come to buy the product and feed their children on site. Babywell also seeks to change behaviors in families, through nutritional education sessions to alert them to and prevent the risks of chronic child malnutrition. Employees prepare and serve the meals in restaurants and conduct the nutritional education sessions.
Babywell’s work clearly addresses some of the SDGs and the more granular Targets… The question was, which ones?
MetODD-SDG offers indicators that are relevant to 73 Targets of 16 SDGs. We opted to select no more than 3 SDGs that were most relevant to Babywell’s work and social mission, so as not to be too overwhelmed by data collection!
Because Babywell contributes to improving the nutrition, health and well-being of vulnerable families in the local community – and ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty – we opted to use indicators associated with goals that align with SDG2 – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and, in a more operations-related way, SDG3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
For each SDG, we then selected among the Targets. In SDG2, there are two targets dedicated to fighting malnutrition and ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round. Target 2.1 is particularly relevant to infants and the poor, which represents the target public of Babywell. Target 2.2 focuses on reducing malnutrition among children under 5, to eradicate stunting and emaciation. On the other hand, targets 2.3 and 2.4 relating to agricultural productivity, equal access to land and viability of food production systems are not considered key for the Babywell, whose operations are around sales (and not production) – they are therefore removed from the framework.
We did the same exercise for SDG3 and selected two targets: Target 3.2 to eliminate preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 and Target 3.4 which builds on prevention to promote health and well-being. Babywell indeed contributes to this Target with its nutritional education sessions.
Next, we sat down with the management team, a group of employees and some of Babywell’s partners to select specific indicators from the MetODD-SDG framework that are relevant to Babywell’s operations.
We had the choice of several different categories of indicators: outreach (targeted people and products sold), accessibility / affordability, changes (observed and perceived by the beneficiaries), and impact (national macroeconomic indicators). The MetODD-SDG framework also encouraged us to consider indicators on user satisfaction and internal management practices.
For each category, MetODD-SDG suggests a list of standard indicators aligned with international frameworks (IRIS): our work was to “sort” through these indicators and pick the ones most relevant to Babywell.
For example, for the first category, “Global outreach (people)”, we opted to use one of the standard indicators suggested in MetODD: Number of unique individuals who were clients of the organization during the reporting period (IRIS reference: PI4060). However, we opted to not to use the indicator Number of unique smallholder farmer individuals who were clients during the reporting period, as it wasn’t relevant to the Targets we had selected and Babywell’s social mission. This indicator was therefore removed from the list in the Excel sheet.
We wanted to go deeper for the outreach indicators: the Babywell management wanted to track its ability to reach very disadvantaged families. The MetODD-SDG indicator list includes an indicator that allows for additional segmentation of the target public. In our case, we selected the Number of unique poor individuals who were clients of the organization during the reporting period, by coding the indicator based on the given segmentation.
Finally, we added customized indicators that make sense for Babywell and its context. For instance, we added the Number of active restaurants for babies during the reporting period to monitor our ability to provide access to the product at a reasonable cost and to ensure that meals benefit children. We made sure to add a comment, to clarify the purpose of this indicator, so anyone looking at our MetODD-SDG framework understands why its there.
For each indicator, it is possible to set, a target to be achieved (by putting a figure in the column “Output”) and add any assumptions in the column “Comment”… at Babywell, we decided it was still too early to set targets, and we will focus first on collecting some baseline data.
And voilà! Babywell had a list of indicators linked to the international SDG Targets, to measure its contribution to the SDGs at the micro and local level. And the exercise only took about a half-day of work (identification of SDGs and key Targets, selection of indicators, sharing with the Management Team, completion of the reporting framework).
The table we created is, above all, a logical framework for day-to-day monitoring activities and for driving strategic decision-making. Babywell plans to track these indicators almost continuously, to make sure it is staying true to its social mission.