LFA Conference: Using data to measure effectiveness

Jennifer Kowalski ’17 Discusses Data Collection  to Ensure HMFC’s Work With Clients Is Having Positive Impact

Two years ago, the students of the Haverford Microfinance Consulting club (HMFC) pivoted toward a focus on financial access issues here in the US and began considering the possibility of providing financial services to the local Philadelphia community. The development of this strategic direction has been facilitated by their engagement with Lend For America, an organization devoted to support campus microfinance organizations.

In November 2014, MI3 supported 5 students from HMFC to travel to San Fransisco for the annual Lend for America Summit to help the group in its efforts to provide funding for local entrepreneurs as a Trustee with Kiva Zip.

Summit participants included student microfinance groups from campuses across the US. The 5 students attending were Exec Dir Kayoung Lee (’16), Com Dir Jenna Kowalski (’17), Xizi (Daisy) Yuan (’17), Sitao Guo (’18) and Siyan Wang (’17).

Below Jennifer Kowalski ’17 discusses two takeaways from the summit.


Five club members were fortunate enough to attend the 2014 Lend for America Summit that was held in November UC Berkley. This was my first time attending and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had sessions for campus Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) at all different stages. For HMFC, the Proving Impact: Using Data to Measure Effectiveness session could not have been more appropriate as it focused on the importance of collecting data at every step of the way. Below I will share the key aspects of this topic, especially those that are applicable to an MFI beginning the loaning/consulting process.

We are actively looking for our first clients and this puts us at a vital time in the data collection process. The importance of gathering information from clients before offering services was stressed as it allows the setting of a baseline to measure changes in the future. can be established.  (We want to validate that our efforts are making a positive impact on our clients’ lives and business! – Prof Mudd) The session leaders provided a model  of data collection at the 5 major stages of our business process:

  1. Inputs – Need to track resources invested before services are provided to our clients
  2. Process – Need to document the planned activities that utilize the above inputs in conjunction with delivery
  3. Outputs – Need to evaluate the amount of products/services delivered upon delivery
  4. Outcomes – Need to evaluate ways in which clients benefit 1 – 2 years post delivery
  5. Impact – Need to evaluate changes in communities 2+ years post delivery

The session leaders also recommended that initial data collection consist of a (true/false) Financial Literacy Test, an Entrepreneurial Spirit Index (measured on a scale of 1 – 10) and a (yes/no) Financial Index. The repetition of this collection varies widely from MFI to MFI. Some ask for responses every month, others only ask for it immediately after the client has had an interaction with the MFI, and still some only collect entry and exit information. HMFC should come to consensus about our preferred method rather immediately so that our process will remain consistent with substantial data for all clients.

 In addition to what is listed above, it was noted that one of the most important aspects of data collection post-delivery consists of measuring client satisfaction. The most important aspect of this is client referral, which can be measured by a Net Promoter Score. It should be asked how likely the client is (from a scale of 1 to 10 so that changes are able to be closely tracked over time) to recommend HMFC to his/her colleagues or friends. Responses can be categorized as follows:

9 – 10 : Promoter
7 – 8 : Passive
< 6 : Detractor

Based on this information, it is now possible to target incentives at the promoters (as client referral is one the crucial ways for our clientele to grow), as well as to gather vital information from the detractors that could help in our company’s improvement.

 Overall, I believe that HMFC should implement a data collection methodology in order to accurately track our impact. Although qualitative responses are also helpful, quantitative data is necessary to concretely show what impact we have had. I look forward to taking what I learned at this conference and implementing it back at Haverford!

See the Aspen Institute’s FIELD publication Data That Works for more information on this topic.

-Jennifer Kowalski ’17


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