MEL vs. M&E: What Is the Difference and Why Does It Matter?

Jul 14, 2016 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Washington, DC, and Online

Presentation Materials:

Presenter Bios

Program funders have a variety of tools and methods to measure a program’s outcomes and evaluate its success in achieving its goals. Competing demands for scarce resources, however, make it important to conduct carefully targeted and balanced monitoring and evaluation in order to support learning and give decision makers the information they need to improve programs. “Learning” in this context means using the results of monitoring and evaluation to understand what works and incorporate this knowledge as programs go forward.

Several funding organizations focused on international development have fostered and adopted a “monitoring, evaluation, and learning” (MEL) approach, which focuses resources on comprehensively monitoring performance, selectively evaluating activities, and supporting continuous learning. While more traditional monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tends to focus on producing data for accountability, MEL engages key decision makers who are motivated to improve programs, applies the most appropriate and credible tools and methods for addressing their urgent questions, and intentionally seeks to incorporate learning into program delivery. The approach helps funders and stakeholders foster ongoing learning to support the effective implementation of programs.

Mathematica Policy Research’s Center for International Policy Research and Evaluation (CIPRE) and Center for Improving Research Evidence (CIRE) hosted a discussion on M&E vs. MEL frameworks on July 14 at 3:00 p.m. (ET)Our expert panelists talked about how foundations and federal development agencies have adopted MEL approaches, reviewed their experiences in applying the principles, and considered how MEL techniques can be generalized to help other organizations improve programs and understand their impacts.

This event tookplace at Mathematica’s Washington, DC, office (located at 1100 First St. NE) and online. Our speakers included the following experts:

  • Nancy MacPherson, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Joshua Kaufman, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Clemencia Cosentino, Mathematica
  • Ann Person, Center for Improving Research Evidence, Mathematica
  • Matt Sloan, Center for International Policy Research and Evaluation, Mathematica
  • Jackie Williams Kaye, Wellspring Advisors

This event peroved to be valuable for professionals at:

  • Foundations
  • USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and other federal agencies
  • The World Bank and other multilateral donor agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Implementing organizations