More than 75 Years of Impact

Heifer International strives to be a world-class leader in outcome-driven development. Heifer International’s Global Impact Goal will be measured through a process of continuous improvement, monitoring, evaluation, research and learning to allow us to clearly measure the impact of our work to end global hunger and improve livelihoods.

In keeping with its core values embedded in the Twelve Cornerstones Heifer International holds itself to the highest standards of Accountability for learning and continuous improvement. Embedded in its program and project design are a series of monitoring and evaluation activities that are carried out to measure progress.

Regular Data Collection and Analysis

The regular collection and analysis of information to assist timely decision making and ensure accountability is a continuing function that uses methodical collection of data to provide program and project managers and stakeholders with early indications of progress toward targets compared to baseline.

Project status is monitored and reported quarterly using Heifer's Global Program Management Information System, Kimetrica. To collect data from as close to the source as possible, Heifer International has begun to digitize its program, project and field data collection processes with the use of handheld devices for data collection.

Timely Awareness of Impact

In 2013, Heifer launched its Global Outcome Monitoring System to measure progress toward its Theory of Change. This self-reported system will generate data that provides early indications of the likelihood of impact or its lack thereof. This methodology employs a combination of rigorous data collection and robust analysis. Baseline data is collected for every project, and after which data will be collected annually to track progress. This enables the organization to know before it's too late whether it is likely that impact is being achieved and take corrective actions. Timely awareness of impact positions the organization to become even better stewards of donor funds.

Self Review and Self Improvement

A range of self-monitoring activities called Participatory Self-Review and Planning (PSRP) takes place at the community level. Project groups involved in our programs conduct sessions periodically to review progress, analyze results and make new plans. This review requires participants to examine how they are doing in key areas, identify their strengths and make room for improvement, using the 12 Cornerstones as a framework.

The philosophy behind the personal self-review is that change in the individual is the first step to sustainable change in a family, group, community and society. PSRP is a simple, highly effective and efficient tool for periodic monitoring and planning. Through the PSRP process, participants realize they are capable of holding themselves to high standards and assessing their own progress. They gain life-long skills in critical thinking, analysis and planning.

The Spillover Effect

Heifer International recognizes that its work effects more people than the beneficiaries of its projects. In order to measure the spillover effects, Heifer International is using Social Network Analysis to systematically collect data on spillover effects.

A Selective Approach

Evaluation is a rigorous, independent and systematic examination of a planned (Ex Ante), ongoing (Mid Term) or completed project (Ex Post). We recognize the healthy debate on evaluation methods in the area of our work. We seek to avoid a one size fits all approach and are selective in the use of different methods appropriate to the type of project interventions and will always seek to use donor funds wisely. Heifer uses a variety of methodologies to collect empirical data that include:

Quantitative Methods

Quantitative Methods

Explaining phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analyzed using mathematically based methods, in particular statistics.

Qualitative Methods

Qualitative Methods

The use of interviews, observations, and documents, formal and informal that may be analyzed from a variety of perspectives.

Randomized Control Trials

Randomized Control Trials

A type of impact evaluation which uses randomized access to social programs as a means of limiting bias and generating an internally valid impact estimate.

Participatory Approaches

Participatory Approaches

The engagement of project beneficiaries in the evaluation of their own project often facilitated by a group leader or a community facilitator.

Quasi Experimental Design

Quasi Experimental Design

Enables the organization to use a range of tools to do a comparison of before and after the project.

Evaluation Design

Applying Lessons Learned

Evaluation aims to answer specific management questions to judge the overall value of an endeavor and supply lessons learned to improve future actions, planning and decision-making. Evaluations commonly seek to determine the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of the project or organization's objectives.


Evaluations are designed in collaboration with our partners, funders and beneficiaries to ensure that the findings will be useful at all levels for learning and continuous improvement.

While evaluation examines the impact of programs and draws conclusions to determine the effectiveness of a specific program/project, research is a process that allows us to test our assumptions about an issue, trend, or the relationship between variables.

It allows us to make assertions about correlation and causation – all important elements of the evaluation process. Heifer International works with US based and local academic and research institutions to conduct research on areas of strategic importance. Heifer International seeks through its research work to create a culture of inquiry where its staff continuously test their assumptions and its model.

We are committed to apply the most appropriate and rigorous methods in the industry to measure impact in a consistent and timely manner and to be transparent with the results of our work. Heifer International’s Mission Effectiveness team will pay deep attention to periodically examine the effectiveness and efficiency of our approaches, our model and delivery mechanism. Produced in partnership with the Western Michigan University, these studies evaluate our work in 20 countries, covering close to 140 projects interviewing over 5000 project participants.

Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Peru

Ten Years of Coffee in the Americas

Heifer’s coffee strategy was designed to enhance the livelihood of small-scale coffee farmers through increased coffee productivity and food security, especially during the “lean months”. Our strategy improved the quality of the final product and enhanced the skills and expertise of technical and management teams so that cooperatives and farmer associations successfully reached markets. We accomplished these outcomes through climate-smart agirculture that minimizes disease and soil erosion while boosting yields, soil fertility and water management. We improved how coffee is processed—such as better mechanisms for washing and drying coffee beans—helping farmers add value to their product and enhancing marketing, financial and entrepreneurship development.

  • Methodology: The Key Evaluation Checklist, Heifer Hoofprint Model, Heifer Six Value Groups, analysis of impacts in income, assets, and nutrition, and of cost effectiveness.
  • Research: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), University of Vermont

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Nepal, Asia

External Impact Evaluation of Heifer International in Nepal

Heifer Nepal was estimated to have met 53.4 percent of the needs within the communities we visited. Overall, Heifer is consistently making important contributions to reducing poverty and improving living conditions in Nepal. More than 9 out of 10 of the 94 families interviewed (91.5%) indicated that they had increased their income as a direct result of their participation in the projects. An important feature of the Heifer Nepal is that projects target women, which has contributed greatly to improvements in gender equity.

  • Methodology: The Key Evaluation Checklist, Heifer Hoofprint Model, Heifer Six Value Groups, analysis of impacts in income, assets, and nutrition, and of cost effectiveness.
  • Investigator(s): Thomaz K. Chianca PhD, Lee Balcom MS, Kelly Robertson MS

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