Tilitonse (formerly the Civil Society Governance Fund) is a £12.5 million grant-making facility that aims to enable civil society to better engage with national and local government to promote greater accountability for its citizens.
Tilitonse’s outputs are that civil society becomes better able to promote transparent and accountable governance; with citizens supported to improve social inclusion, to hold service providers responsible for performance, and with civil society organisations themselves becoming more capable and accountable. The fund was supported by DFID, the European Union, Irish Aid and the Norwegian Embassy, and ran for four years from 2011 to 2015.
We were appointed as the Independent Impact Evaluation Agent (IIEA) to evaluate and document the outcomes of specific projects/ grantees supported by Tilitonse, to measure the impact of the Fund as a whole, and to assess the appropriateness of its support mechanisms. The IIEA also played a role in a knowledge management and support capacity, sharing best practice with partners and helping keep Tilitonse focused on delivering results.
This is a challenging area for impact evaluation since the anticipated ‘impacts’ are likely to require a shift in power relations (between citizens, government, and other interested groups), are likely to be transformative over time, and specific control groups are often difficult to obtain. For example, it is challenging for some of the interventions to generate control groups where networking and coalition building activities actively seek contamination. The impact evaluation used a theory-based approach, drawing on evidence from a combination of survey work (secondary datasets, plus primary data collection) and individual case studies. A form of contribution analysis was used to weigh-up the evidence base and likelihood of causality, while for some specific interventions the possibility of using a randomised control trial (RCT) was scoped.