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Building a world with more evidence and less poverty (2018-2019 annual report)

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A letter from Annie & Dean

Dear friends,

Last year was a time of both growth and reflection at IPA. Amidst the exciting developments—from starting a new unit that advises organizations on gathering and using data and right-fit evidence, to supporting various government agencies to apply evidence to their programs—we also paused, reflected, and articulated an ambitious strategy to make a bigger impact in the years to come. Here are some highlights of IPA’s accomplishments last year, which were made possible by the world-class researchers, organizations, and funders we are proud to call our partners.

We generated more evidence to share with the world. Generating rigorous evidence with a network of renowned researchers and partners remains the cornerstone of what we do. Last year, we started 98 new studies and continued our efforts to share research findings and promote the use of evidence through 66 events around the world.

Governments, NGOs, and private enterprises used rigorous evidence from IPA-implemented evaluations to inform and improve their programs. These impacts included institution-wide shifts, scale-ups, and programmatic changes. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cited IPA research in its decision to shift from traditional microfinance to the Graduation Approach and to building more inclusive markets; the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new guideline citing IPA research in a recommendation to offer a career ladder to practicing community health workers; and Peru’s MineduLAB, an embedded evidence lab within the Ministry of Education launched by IPA and our partners at J-PAL, scaled up a campaign that helped schools use maintenance funds as intended.

We launched the Right-Fit Evidence (RFE) Unit. Built on the principles outlined in The Goldilocks Challenge by Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean Karlan, the RFE unit provides resources and consulting services to organizations, donors, and governments in designing and supporting cost-effective, appropriately-sized monitoring & evaluation (M&E) systems.

We influenced global debates and communicated key findings to a global audience. Our work was featured multiple times in The New York Times and NPR, and in other respected news outlets including The Atlantic, Vox, and WIRED. Several of these media stories focused on a Rwanda study that benchmarked cash transfers to a more standard development program (see feature on pages 18-19).

We continued to share critical measurement tools through the Poverty Probability Index® (PPI®), the simple and low-cost poverty measurement tool that made its new home at IPA in 2016 and is used by more than 600 organizations around the world. Last year, IPA released 10 new PPIs, helping organizations integrate objective poverty data into their assessments and strategic decision-making.

Finally, we took stock and planned for the years to come. Last year was a time of reflection, feedback gathering, learning from our past, and articulating a path forward. This process culminated in the release of our 2025 Strategic Ambition, where we lay out an ambitious plan that rests on three pillars: creating stronger evidence, sharing evidence strategically, and equipping decision-makers to use evidence. Our vision, to build a world with less poverty, remains stronger than ever, and we are hopeful that this new strategy will enable us to more fully realize this vision.

As always, all of this work happens because of you: the researchers, organizations, and funders who make it all possible. We are deeply appreciative of your partnership and hope you will continue to join us as we forge ahead in achieving our vision of a world with more evidence and less poverty