The Value in Articulating Our Principles on Value for Money

By Traci L. Baird

As an organization that cares about achieving and improving our value for money (VfM), we are in very good company. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world recognize how important it is to invest the funds we receive from donors in ways that are as effective, efficient, economical, and equitable as possible. Donors, rightfully, expect the organizations they support to seek and achieve excellent value, to ensure the impact of their investment. We appreciate learning from colleague organizations and donors about how we can continuously improve in our thinking, implementation, and measurement around VfM. For example, guidance for UK Aid Direct applicants provides an inspiring focus for their VfM efforts, “…making the best possible use of our resources to maximise our impact on poor people’s lives” as they also provide practical definitions and suggestions for metrics.

At EngenderHealth, our global team is inspired by our mission, and we share a determination to have as great an impact through our work as possible. We also take a principled, values-driven approach to our policies, processes, and partnerships, and it was in that vein that we outlined our own principles regarding VfM. These principles link our VfM efforts to our broader strategy and our organizational values. We underscore our commitment to evidence-based decision making and continuous quality improvement, for example – both elements of our program strategy as well as priorities for our management processes. We also emphasize our commitment to engage with our partners and stakeholders on VfM, because only together can we achieve the value and impact we collectively seek. And we articulate our principle to leave no one behind. We believe that to achieve our vision of a gender-equal world, we must have programs that reach into geography and communities that are harder to reach, and we must engage authentically with partners in those settings. Our approach to VfM assumes that when we have to go the extra miles or spend the extra dollars or put in the extra hours to ensure equity in our programs, we will.

We share our principles on VfM to invite conversation so we can continuously learn and improve and be inspired by the efforts and impact of others. Join us.

EngenderHealth is committed to effectively stewarding the resources entrusted to us by donors, and we work across our ecosystem to optimize the value of the programs we deliver. Our approach Value for Money (VfM) emphasizes accountability, sustainability, evidence-based decision-making, and responsiveness to the high expectations of donors, partners, and the people we serve. The VfM principles listed here guide us throughout program design, implementation, and measurement.


Measure what matters: EngenderHealth is committed to using evidence-based approaches to measure what matters, not what is easy to measure, in order to determine true value for money.

Value evidence and innovation: We conduct risk assessments for all programming, are transparent in evidence-based decision making, and strive for innovative, high-impact solutions.


Focus on efficiency: Efficiency is at the center of everything we do. In developing and implementing programs, we achieve efficiency by working with the most effective partners. With 75 years of experience, we are well positioned to work with partners across all sectors.

Continuously improve: EngenderHealth actively seeks to collaborate, learn, adapt, and course correct to streamline processes, interventions, and resource utilization that in turn maximize VfM.

Engage all stakeholders: All EngenderHealth staff, board, partners, and subcontractors are educated on our commitment to VfM. We invest in engaging them in these principals to ensure all parts of the organization work to ensure VfM in all that we do.


Deliver high-value programs: By providing best-in-class trainings, technical assistance, and community engagement, we are able to maximize impact while containing costs. In fact, in recent years we have seen increases in key impact metrics even where program budgets decreased.

Optimize planning and procurement: Through careful planning and procurement of all goods and services involved in program delivery, we ensure optimal value for every dollar spent.


Balance across the portfolio: EngenderHealth takes a diversified portfolio approach to VfM, recognizing that some activities will offer higher VfM than others, while also balancing programmatic approaches and corresponding VfM over the short and long term to achieve sustainability of our work and ensure lasting change.

Leave no one behind: Achieving our vision of a gender equal world requires working with the most vulnerable and marginalized. Reaching those at the margins through high-quality interventions is more costly than helping those who are easier to reach. Our VfM approach assumes that we will continue working to reach the hardest-to-reach and that donors will invest in that effort.