Value for money

What it means for UK NGOs

A Bond paper [PDF] presents a framework to help UK NGOs navigate the value for money agenda and to identify which approaches and methods are best suited to their needs. It focuses on three key areas:

  1. The systems and processes in place for managing value for money
  2. The approaches NGOs use to compare value for money between activities
  3. The use of evaluations to demonstrate value for money

Unless an NGO can monitor costs and measure outcomes it will struggle to engage meaningfully with value for money.

The paper also outlines the current debate around value for money and offers some suggestions on how to move the value for money agenda forwards across the UK NGO sector. A working draft of the paper was presented by Sara Cottingham from VSO at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) at Busan in November 2011.

Programme integration

We have created a resource on how value for money considerations can be integrated into the programme cycle and how an NGO can build a robust and defensible case for how an intervention balances economy, efficiency and effectiveness and delivers the most value for poor and marginalised people.


Guide to Social Return on Investment – the Cabinet Office (Office of the Third Sector) guide to social return on investment. The purpose of this guide is to standardise practice, develop the methodology, and provide more clarity on the use of social return on investment. It has been written for people who want to measure and analyse the social, environmental and economic value being generated by their activities or by the activities they are funding or commissioning.

Contribution analysis: An approach to exploring cause and effect – a paper by John Mayne from the Institutional Learning and Change Initiative on how to conduct a Contribution Analysis.

Conducting a Basic Efficiency Resource analysis – a guide and case study from AlterSpark consulting and Oxfam GB on the BER model. The Basic Efficiency Resource model can aid impact evaluations of complex programs comprising numerous units. It is based on quadrant analysis and social return on investment, where output is compared to input, providing a relative perspective on performance.

Basic Efficiency Resource: A framework for measuring the relative performance of multi-unit programs – a guide to using the Basic Efficiency Resource framework from Leitmotiv and AlterSpark consultants.

Donor perspectives

DFID presentation on Value for Money and Civil Society from the Bond value for money event in February 2011 which looked at what DFID wants civil society organisations to do on value for money and their policy approach.

Measuring the Impact and Value for Money of Governance & Conflict Programmes – a DFID commissioned report from ITAD consultancy on how DFID can measure value for money in its governance programmes.

Working groups

Understand and debate the conceptualisation and application of Value for Money at programme and organisational level in Bond’s Value for Money working group. Bond members can join and take part in working groups for free.