The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) is a cross-disciplinary partnership between the Institute of Development Studies (IDS, based at the University of Sussex), Itad (a consultancy providing evaluation services), and the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA). It has a network of over 4,000 followers from across academia, non-government organisations, donors, the private sector and consultancy, across Africa (48%), Europe (23%) and Asia (18%).[i]

CDI’s vision is of a world where evidence of impact (especially on the poorest and most marginalised in society) is used to inform better decisions (by policymakers, investors, business leaders, development practitioners, and importantly, citizens) that help address the key global challenges of poverty, inequality, insecurity and sustainability.

CDI’s contribution is to provide a valuable platform from which to engage with (and influence) understandings of development impact, and the methodologies needed to demonstrate it. CDI provides a ‘safe space’ for partners to debate and learn beyond undertaking evaluations; and works across academic, public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as across disciplinary traditions, and a wide range of actors in research, evaluation and practice.

At CDI, we place particular value in the appropriateness of evaluation design choices to a specific situation (the questions, the context, the intervention, the purpose, and resources). We explore innovations and share learning around the ‘evaluation of impact’ (a subtle distinction from the term ‘impact evaluation’ that has been captured by a narrower meaning).

We also value ways in which the perspectives of the poor and most marginalised in society are reflected in evidence and how their voices can be amplified through the process of measuring change (design, data collection, analysis, and use). Often people are viewed narrowly as the ‘subject’ of research and evaluation, yet different perspectives and their framings can enrich both our understanding of the impact, and through the process, empower people to influence transformational change.

Finally, we value impact evidence as a way to improve social accountability to citizens. Knowledge and evidence shape power relations. With increasing flows of capital being used for mission-based purposes, the democratic gap between those making decisions and those affected by interventions is set to widen. We value ways in which evidence of impact can be used (and be part of deliberative processes) that increase accountability to those too often left behind.

[i] Based on a survey of email subscribers conducted in August 2016. Source: