Washington – October 18, 2021: To meet the growing demand from our global clients to better drive and measure their social impact, APCO Worldwide has formed a preferred partnership with Frontier Design Group for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL), APCO Impact Global Lead Denielle Sachs announced today. MEL tools and approaches enable clients to objectively measure their performance, moving from “vanity” to “envy” metrics – from abstract numbers to real change in the world, as they deepen reporting and storytelling around social and environmental impacts. Effective MEL approaches help organizations:
- Understand Impact: Measure outcomes and impact with a focus on systemic impact.
- Right Size: The value of data collected must exceed the cost to collect it.
- Collect Actionable Data: avoiding burden on grantees/partners to collect unnecessary data that will not be used.
- Foster Collaborative Learning: Building on what others have already learned rather than starting from scratch.
Frontier Design is an Economically Disadvantaged, Women Owned Small Business that combines the creativity of human centered design with the rigor of data analysis to build leading edge strategies and approaches that drive and measure social impact.
“Organizations across all sectors and geographies are increasingly expected to play a stronger role in realizing a more inclusive, just and regenerative economy,” Sachs said. “New policies, flashy partnerships and big dollar donations are not enough; pressure is mounting on organizations to more effectively measure the progress and publicly report on their impact.”
This partnership is another step in deepening APCO’s social impact and sustainability capabilities. It will be overseen by APCO Impact—the social impact and sustainability group within APCO Worldwide, which brings together the firm’s work on corporate purpose, ESG, climate and sustainability; racial and gender equity; and strategic philanthropy.
“In this moment of global reckoning, when the cracks of our systems have been laid bare, leaders across business, government and civil society need to understand what is working and what is not,” Sachs said. “Ultimately, we need to be investing in solutions that address root causes and dismantle institutionalized barriers to equity. Inclusive data and MEL strategies are essential to improving the design and delivery of those solutions in ways that meet the real needs of the communities served.”
Frontier Design CEO and Founder Alexa Courtney is passionate about helping organizations adopt new strategies and tools to meaningfully define their impact. “We are encouraged to see so many organizations getting rid of their ‘vanity’ metrics, the superficial measurements that make people feel good but that don’t actually reveal transformational indicators of change,” Courtney said.
In their place, organizations are building “envy” MEL approaches, informed by authentic curiosity about whether and how their organizations are moving the needle. “Envy” MEL approaches support constant learning and adapting, equipping organizations with useful data and powerful stories that inspire others to follow their lead, align with their brand, and deepen change. This requires radically creative and rigorously analytic approaches that meet clients where they are.
“At Frontier we employ empirical thinkers such as PhDs, industrial engineers, data scientists and mathematicians, and pair them with visual storytellers, experience designers, strategists and data visualization experts,” Courtney said. “We’ve found this to be a unique and powerfully effective combination of mindsets and talents that supports the ambitions of our clients.”
APCO Impact and Frontier Design Group bring a powerful toolkit to the market rooted in research, strategy development, stakeholder engagement and data analytics. Together we help organizations take a systems-level approach to change, understand the interdependencies of the issues they seek to address, and create a theory of change which guides their programs, strategies, and investments. We employ learning strategies to understand incremental change over time and implement the tools and frameworks to collect meaningful data to inform better decisions. Finally, we help our clients tell compelling and credible stories about their impact backed by the data and impact stories we curate, designing narrative approaches and communication plans to influence understanding and action.
Frontier Design is a data and design firm that solves complex social, political and organizational challenges using the tools of design, systems thinking, and data analysis. Their services include Strategic Planning, Organizational Design and Development, Facilitation and Training, Policy and Field Research, Economic Analysis, and Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning. Their approaches reveal the organizational and human dynamics that impact change. They combine the head and the heart; the analytical and the creative; the critical and the empathetic; the logical and the emotional.