Event Coverage

Stay true to your mission and purpose for amazing measurable results: Natalia Vaccarezza

Ever wondered what success looks like for a mission-driven organisation and how does it measure success? Natalia Vaccarezza, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), addressed this in her session on the first day of the AMEC Global Measurement and Evaluation Summit.

Leading with purpose and a mission has become an important indicator to measure an organisation’s long-term ability to be successful an organisation’s lasting impact on society is important. Vaccarezza believes that while purpose is fundamental to any organisation, for a non-profit organisation, it’s absolutely critical. Just like the North Star, it is the guiding point from where all the measurement will flow. For non-profits, it is a sizeable part of the measurement programme given the absence of traditional measures in terms of revenue or increasing income. With this introduction, Vaccarezza moved on to take the audience through UNICEF’s measurement journey.

Linking communication to strategic priorities

In 2014 UNICEF launched its first global communication and advocacy strategy along with the Measurement & Evaluation (M&E) framework for 2014 to 2017. She said it was pivotal for the organisation wherein they built the measurement programme and rolled it out in all their country and regional offices and national committees. The next big move for the organisation, Vaccarezza explained, was the inclusion of communication in the strategic plan developed for 2018 to 2021, the current strategic period for UNICEF. In 2019, the organisation launched the Global Communication and Advocacy Strategy (GCAS) 2.0 to update the strategy and align with the strategic plan.

The new strategic plan in development for 2022 to 2025 will have a dedicated change strategy on advocacy and communication and a new enabler for internal communication and staff engagement for the first time. UNICEF anchored its measurement to the strategic plan, which helped elevate communication and demonstrate results along the way.

Global monitoring and evaluation approach

Talking about some of the distinctive features of the communication and advocacy M&E framework, Vaccarezza mentioned that having a theory of change was a first for the GCAS. This really helped UNICEF to anchor its work to the strategic goals and helped to communicate with the audience beyond the communication spectrum. The framework has two key outcomes – policy and legislative changes for children, and support mobilised for UNICEF and Child Rights. This framework is designed on the principles of relevance and adaptability to different contexts as UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories. What might work in a high-income country will differ from what is relevant or applicable in a country that is experiencing a humanitarian emergency or undergoing a conflict. Therefore, a global framework was much required. UNICEF also has few prioritised indicators that are measured across the board further integrated into the corporate systems which everyone reports back on. Then there are other indicators that countries can select that are relevant to them and align the priorities among the four goal areas of leading voice, leading brand, leading advocates, and engaging supporters.

Rollout and support

Speaking about the rollout process, Natalia stated that it isn’t enough to just launch a strategy and hope that it will be automatically picked up. It involved multiple rounds of consultations, inputs and buy-ins. This not only helped to strengthen the final product but really align people across the organisation.

The rollout involved, integrating the standard KPIs into UNICEF’s enterprise systems for planning and results reporting; building capacities for M&E and developing technical guidance; forming long-term arrangements with global providers for media monitoring, social listening and analytical reports. The next step was forming strategic partnerships, and a measurement advisory board with private sector companies and academic institutions to get a broader, external perspective to understand how the industry is changing. This was followed by knowledge-sharing events, including a summit on measuring results and impact for communication and advocacy. And lastly, UNICEF is an active member of AMEC’s not for profit group and uses the platform to learn and share good practices and knowledge.

Vaccarezza concluded the session by highlighting what worked well and the key learnings:

  • A shared global strategy that set the vision, ambition and priorities to guide the organisation’s work across 190 countries and territories
  • Integration – bringing together advocacy, communication, fundraising, brand and campaigning from the outset
  • Digital-first focus enabled the digital transformation and content and engagement strategies to support programming, advocacy and fundraising goals.
  • Audience-driven by using a range of tools from social listening to AV testing and research to seed in the messaging and tactics
  • Influencers to amplify the voice and reach new audiences
  • Link comms and advocacy work with tangible service delivery to make the voice stronger and the brand more reputable

(Session coverage by Julia Joseph, AvianWE)

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