Tools And Methods

Value for money grid

Value for money grid

To review community or organisational costs related to a particular programme intervention or project and assess value for money. 

This tool can be used internally within an NGO or other organisation and then at community level to get a clear picture of the different perspectives relating to value for money of a programme or project.

Steps in the process

List and rate observed changes

  1. Using a tool such as the Ripples of Change, identify the key changes that have resulted from the programme you wish to review and rate each one according to the level of change achieved (low/medium/high or 0-10). Based on this, agree the overall level of change achieved by the programme (low/medium/high or 0-10).
  2. Draw a vertical line on the floor or wall using tape or on a flip chart. Label the vertical line “value” and write "0" or "low" at the bottom and "10" or "high" at the top.
  3. Create a card with the programme title or an image to represent it and place it at the corresponding point on the vertical line, based on the level of change agreed in Step 1 (low/medium/high or between 0 and 10).
  4. Confirm that all the participants agree with the assessment before moving to the next step.

Review community costs

  1. Draw a horizontal line crossing the vertical line in the middle. Label the horizontal line “cost” and write 0 or low at the left end and 10 or high at the right end.
  2. Ask each participant to write a few words or draw a picture on a card representing community and/or organisational expenditures associated with the programme, in terms of time, effort or financial resources. Alternatively, go around the circle of participants, asking each person to describe a community, individual or organisational expenditure (time, effort, financial) associated with the programme. 
  3. Once all participants have had an opportunity to do this, rate the overall level of community and/or organisational expenditure on a scale from low (0) to a major expenditure (10). Adjust the position of the programme card to reflect the cost rating on the horizontal line.
  4. Facilitate discussion of any differences in perspectives and resolve these through consensus or a majority view (do not create an average).
  5. Document the reasoning and evidence for the final rating given to community and/or organisational costs.
  6. Discuss and assess the conditions encountered during the review period that helped or hindered the process. Use a traffic light colour code on the programme card to indicate good, moderate or poor conditions. Justify the response and indicate the sources of evidence.   

Assess Value for Money

  1. Label the four corners of the grid:
    • top left - high value and low cost
    • top right - high value and high cost
    • bottom left - low value and low cost
    • bottom right - low value and high cost
  2. To facilitate the analysis, find a positive idea or a symbol to represent each corner of the diagram based on local expressions or concepts that capture the spirit of each quadrant. For example:
    • top left = a lot for very little
    • top right = well worth it
    • bottom left = no pain no gain
    • bottom right = what a waste
  3. Before making the final judgment, consider the following questions:
    • Could the programme have achieved the same level of value with fewer expenditures?
    • Could the programme have achieved better value with the same expenditures?
    • How well do the results justify the expenditures, considering the conditions encountered?
    • Summarise the scenario that best describes the programme. For example, a programme that produces high value with high expenditures under good conditions may represent lower value for money compared to a programme that produces high value with moderate expenditure, despite very difficult conditions. A programme producing low value but at low cost and under difficult conditions may also represent good value for money. 
  4. Discuss implications and formulate community-based and/or organisational recommendations based on the assessment.


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