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Collective Impact Assessment Tool for Peacebuilding

Build a scientifically rigorous yet replicable measure of violence that can be used in peacebuilding projects as a field-wide standard.

Photo of Frank Fredericks

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The world spends $1.6T on military spending, and only $6B on peacebuilding initiatives. This underinvestment is largely because the peacebuilding field lacks impact assessment capabilities that are line with the latest in social science research. Informed by The Stanford Social Innovation Review’s article on Collective Impact, we believe that the first step to improving impact assessment in peacebuilding is to identify a common measure that can be implemented across the field in different organizations and projects. This measure requires input and buy-in from peacebuilding organizations across the field, insight from leading social scientists, and feedback from program participants. We intend to conduct research to make this a reality, in which we run field research tests that include a generalizable sample of the general population, a subject group, a control group, as well as quantitative and qualitative data of attitudinal and behavioral indicators. We intend to run this research in partnership with real peacebuilding projects in Pakistan and Nigeria. The research would be designed by Emile Bruneau at the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab, and conducted in partnership with Search for Common Ground and World Faith. The result would be a measure the propensity of violence of individual participants that is both scientifically rigorous, as well as viable to replicate in peacebuilding projects on the ground. We believe this is a core prerequisite to collecting sector-wide data to track peacebuilding project across time, geography, and peacebuilding methodologies. We even hope to facilitate the gathering of such data, and use it to create forecasting models for peacebuilding outcomes, enabling peacebuilding funders and practitioners to benchmark what success should look like based on parameters of the intervention. We believe this would revolutionize how peacebuilding is assessed and funded, and opens up the field for more dramatic innovation.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The direct beneficiaries of the collective impact measure would be peacebuilding nonprofits, who will be given access for free. It will enable them to accurately measure projects with a participant-specific view. It will also enable them to compare projects over time, and against each other. Lastly, it will improve their ability to fundraise, as funders will have a clear idea of the impact per dollar. Indirect beneficiaries include peacebuilding funders, who can use the tool to compare projects to better allocate resources, participants, who will be better served by optimized interventions, and communities in conflict, would experience drops in communal violence if peacebuilding organizations are able to scale.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Over the last two years, I’ve spoken to the leading minds working in impact assessment in peacebuilding. In that time, we’ve been met with excitement, encouragement, and even skepticism. We also learnt that there is no organization, institution, or person attempting to develop something like our proposal. We are uniquely positioned to implement this idea because World Faith is already working to address communal violence across the world. Over the past nine years, we’ve mobilized 5,000 participants in projects designed to reduce communal violence in communities most prone to conflict. This idea came from our own need to improve how we measure impact. Not only is this the first attempt to apply the Collective Impact Framework to peacebuilding as far as we’re aware, but it’s also the first time large peacebuilding NGOs have agreed to pursue a common metric for cross-field analysis. It’s unique in our field, and it can forward the mission for a more peaceful world greatly.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

World Faith is a global nonprofit working in eight countries to end religious violence, gathering young people from different faith traditions to collaborate locally in development projects as an opportunity to humanize one another.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

When reviewing an impact report based on self-reported surveys, I was struck by how it lacked the same rigor I found in behavioral research. After spending two years speaking with M&E staff and researchers in the peacebuilding field, I discovered this was a field-wide problem that everyone is eager to see fixed. We are now out to solve this, focused on having a standard metric that many organizations could use for a collective data library to improve the rigor and transparency of our field.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

When it comes to communal violence, peace and prosperity are deeply intertwined. SDG 16 is focused on peaceful and inclusive societies, and why Mohamad Yunus won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in microfinance. In his acceptance speech he shared, “For building stable peace we must find ways to provide opportunities for people to live decent lives.” Yet when we look where progress lags, we often find violence. Similarly, those places with violence are lagging behind in economic development. Alas, it is a negative feedback loop, which damns the most at-risk youth to continue the cycle of violence. The Institute of Economics and Peace estimates that every dollar spent in peacebuilding produces $12 in public good, from savings in economic losses to improved public confidence in the economy. By improving measurement in our field, we can better use the resources available in our field, and even attract new resources. In this way we can build a more peaceful, prosperous world.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The research partner is The Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at UPenn, led by Emile Bruneau. The first part of the field research, which is to be conducted in Pakistan, is in partnership with Youth Development Fund, which has been a long-time partner of World Faith. The second part of the field research will be done in Nigeria, and we’re exploring a partnership with Search for Common Ground, which is a large peacebuilding organization. While we may engage some volunteer data scientists, academic advisors, and others, the majority of the work will be completed by the above partners.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The peacebuilding community includes many people, especially those working in the global south, who know intimately what effective peacebuilding work looks like. Without their qualitative wisdom, we could misanalyze the problem, and misattribute solutions. The wisdom of our on-the-ground partners are paramount. The academic partners are able to steer us in a way that takes a significant step forward in a field of research in a way that is both applicable and rigorous.

Geographic Focus

The research will be done in Pakistan and Nigeria, and analyzed in the US.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We expect the entire process to take nine months. Three months of research design, three months of field research, and three months of analysis and compiling findings, including an online resource for use by peacebuilding practitioners.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

In the last round we submitted a proposal that was a multi-year project to develop predictive analytics for peacebuilding outcomes. That proposal included four phases, and the first phase was focused on developing a new measure of violent behavioral propensity? that we could then use to gather data across many peacebuilding interventions for further analysis. This proposal is the first phase of that greater vision, focused on applying Collective Impact to the peacebuilding space. This project alone is significant and needed, and enables more progress in our field. Furthermore, by focusing on just this first phase, we’ve fleshed out more detail and clarified the deliverables of this initial task. It fits the time frame and resource constraints more aptly, and we already have the partnerships in place to make it a reality.


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Photo of Mensen@Missie

Very interesting proposal! This is not an easy project to undertake, but the final product would make a lasting impact in the peacebuilding field.

Photo of Frank Fredericks

That's what we're hoping for!

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