• Effect(s)

    • IN EVALUATING

      Intended or unintended change due directly or indirectly to an intervention

  • Effectiveness

    • IN EVALUATING

      (1) The extent to which the intervention’s objectives were achieved, or are expected to be achieved, taking into account their relative importance. (2) Also used as an aggregate measure of (or judgment about) the extent to which an intervention has attained, or is expected to attain, its major relevant objectives efficiently in a sustainable fashion and with a positive institutional development impact.

    • IN BUSINESS

      The degree to which objectives are achieved and the extent to which targeted problems are solved.

  • Efficiency

    • IN EVALUATING

      A measure of how economically resources/inputs (funds, expertise, time, etc.) are converted to results.

    • IN BUSINESS

      The comparison of what is actually produced or performed with what can be achieved with the same consumption of resources (money, time, labor, etc.). It is an important factor in determination of productivity.

    • IN ECONOMICS

      Obtaining the maximum output for given inputs.

    Commentary

    “Efficiency” is used slightly differently in different fields. It refers to how inputs are converted to outputs (in business and economics) or results (in evaluation). In economics, allocative efficiency concerns whether resources are optimally allocated to achieve maximum levels of public welfare (well-being).

  • Efficient frontier

    • IN FINANCE

      The efficient frontier is the set of optimal portfolios that offers the highest expected return for a defined level of risk or the lowest risk for a given level of expected return. Portfolios that lie below the efficient frontier are sub-optimal, because they do not provide enough return for the level of risk. Portfolios that cluster to the right of the efficient frontier are also sub-optimal, because they have a higher level of risk for the defined rate of return.

    Practice & Source: (1) (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia:
    Commentary

    Recently some have proposed translating this concept into impact investing, i.e.: “a portfolio of investments that lies on the ‘efficient impact-financial frontier” offers the highest level of risk-adjusted impact, relative to the cumulative risk-adjusted financial return of those investments.”

    See the Root Capital and Impact Management Project’s publication on the efficient impact-financial frontier.

  • End user(s)

    • IN BUSINESS

      Person or organization that actually uses a product, as opposed to the person or organization that authorizes, orders, procures, or pays for it.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: BusinessDictionary.com
    Commentary

    In recent years, several players in the sustainable development, social enterprise, and impact investing fields have begun to use “client,” “customer,” “user,” “end-user,” “constituent,” and “stakeholder” in place of “beneficiary” as part of a movement to recognize the individuals who benefit directly from an intervention, product, service, or investment as active participants, rather than passive recipients. Though each of these terms vary slightly in meaning, they are often used interchangeably.

  • Environmental accounting

    • IN ACCOUNTING

      Environmental accounting refers to: a) national accounting: physical and monetary accounts of environmental assets and the costs of their depletion and degradation; b) corporate accounting: the term usually refers to environmental auditing, but may also include the costing of environmental impacts caused by the corporation.

    Practice & Source: (1) Accounting: OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms
    Commentary

    Environmental accounting is used in a similar way to “financial accounting”, though the practices of environmental accounting are not as developed, widespread, and agreed-upon as those for financial accounting. The entry in Wikipedia notes that “environmental accounting is a field that identifies resource use, measures and communicates costs of a company’s or national economic impact on the environment. Costs include costs to clean up or remediate contaminated sites, environmental fines, penalties and taxes, purchase of pollution prevention technologies and waste management costs.”

  • Environmental, Social, and Governance Criteria (ESG)

    • IN FINANCE

      A set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen investments. Environmental criteria looks at how a company performs as a steward of the natural environment. Social criteria examines how a company manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits and internal controls, and shareholder rights. Investors who want to purchase securities that have been screened for ESG criteria can do so through socially responsible mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia
  • Equity

    • IN FINANCE

      The value of an asset less the amount of all liabilities on that asset. It can be represented with the accounting equation: Assets – Liabilities = Equity.

    • IN GENERAL

      The quality of being fair and impartial.

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia (2) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
    Commentary

    The is potential for misunderstanding between the concept of equity as fairness and equity as the net value of an asset. In addition, there is the potential for further confusion because of different variations of the latter definition. “Equity” is often shorthand for shareholder equity reflecting what a shareholder owns in a corporation. Another common use is to call a stock or any other security representing an ownership interest as “equity”. In real estate, “equity” is the difference between the current fair market value of the property and the amount the owner still owes on the mortgage.

  • Ethical investing (Noun)

    • IN FINANCE

      Using one’s ethical principles as the main filter for securities selection. Ethical investing depends on an investor’s views; some may choose to eliminate certain industries entirely (such as gambling, alcohol, or firearms, also known as sin stocks) or to over-allocate to industries that meet the individual’s ethical guidelines.

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia
    Commentary

    “Ethical investing” is sometimes used interchangeably with “socially responsible investing” but the latter typically have one overarching set of guidelines that is used to select the portfolio, while ethical investing may tend toward a more personalized perspective.

  • Evaluation (Noun)

    • IN EVALUATING

      The systematic and objective assessment of an ongoing or completed project, program or policy, its design, implementation and results. The aim is to determine the relevance and fulfillment of objectives, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability. An evaluation should provide information that is credible and useful, enabling the incorporation of lessons learned into the decision-making process of both recipients and donors. Evaluation also refers to the process of determining the worth or significance of an activity, policy or program. An assessment, as systematic and objective as possible, of a planned, ongoing, or completed intervention. Evaluation in some instances involves the definition of appropriate standards, the examination of performance against those standards, an assessment of actual and expected results and the identification of relevant lessons.

    • IN GENERAL

      The making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment.

    Commentary

    Confusion can arise due to differences in understanding what an evaluation involves. Professional evaluators use the term to describe an assessment, or investigation of a program or intervention using a set of defined practices and principles undertaken by people with relevant skills and experience. Others may understand evaluation as simply making a judgment about something, or as being synonymous with applied research. “Evaluation” is also sometimes used to refer to the professional field and practice in a similar way to “accounting” or “social work.”

  • Evidence

    • IN GENERAL

      The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
    Commentary

    There is little disagreement about the definition of the term “evidence”, but what counts as good evidence is often contested.

    According to the Impact Management Project, ‘impact evidence’ is the available body of facts or information that can be used to judge to what extent (or not) impact has occurred.

  • Evidence-based

    • IN GENERAL

      Supported by a large amount of scientific research.

    • IN EVALUATING

      A practice that is based on rigorous research that has demonstrated effectiveness in achieving the outcomes that it is designed to achieve.

    Commentary

    “Evidence-based” is often used in front of “practice” or “policy”. A common definition, created by Dr. David Sackett, of “Evidence-Based Practice” in medicine is “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.” The term has since spread to other sectors. In practice, the details of what counts as good evidence in social and environmental policy and practices can be contested.

  • Ex-ante evaluation

    • IN EVALUATING

      An evaluation that is performed before implementation of an intervention.

  • Ex-post evaluation

    • IN EVALUATING

      Evaluation of an intervention after it has been completed.

  • Expectation(s)

    • IN GENERAL

      a) A strong belief that something will happen or be the case; a belief that someone will or should achieve something. b) A predicted value of a variable, calculated as the sum of all possible values each multiplied by the probability of its occurrence.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
  • Experimental design

    • IN EVALUATING

      A methodology in which research subjects are randomly assigned to either a treatment or control group, data is collected both before and after the intervention, and results for the treatment group are benchmarked against a counterfactual established by results from the control group.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: USAID Glossary of Evaluation Terms
  • External audit

    • IN ACCOUNTING

      Periodic or specific purpose (ad hoc) audit conducted by external (independent) qualified accountant(s). Its objective is to determine, among other things, whether (1) the accounting records are accurate and complete, (2) prepared in accordance with the provisions of GAAP, and (3) the statements prepared from the accounts present fairly the organization’s financial position, and the results of its financial operations.

    Practice & Source: (1) Accounting: BusinessDictionary.com
    Commentary

    An external audit is often thought to refer to a financial audit, but it can be used for any type of checking processes or standards by an external party, such as an external audit of health and safety, fair trade standards, and environmental practices. The basic process is where one party checks another party’s account of something on behalf of somebody else.

  • External evaluation

    • IN EVALUATING

      The evaluation of an intervention conducted by entities and/or individuals outside the donor and implementing organizations.

  • External validity

    • IN EVALUATING

      The degree to which findings, conclusions, and recommendations produced by an evaluation are applicable to other settings and contexts.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: USAID Glossary of Evaluation Terms
    Commentary

    “External validity” is a technical evaluation term that refers to the validity in generalizing from something that has been evaluated to a similar thing that has not.