I have seen several articles and references asking the question, “How do we know aid works?”  There are books (e.g. Toxic Charity, When Helping Hurts) and numerous articles and studies on this.  (Here is a recent one:  http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/05/15/406757551/what-it-takes-to-lift-families-out-of-poverty)  People at conferences talk a lot about KPIs (key performance indicators,) metrics, OBEs (outcome based evaluation,) etc.  Believe me, I get it.  I spent 29.5 years at IBM.  We had “metrics” tattooed on our chests.  As goal oriented Americans, this resonates with us.  We treat our charitable giving as investments and we want a good ROI.

But…(you knew there would be a “but”) The truth is, in the field, measuring results is difficult.  For an already overworked staff, it is a huge burden.  Often the metrics are difficult to define and correlating the gains to the gifts can be next to impossible.  Measuring outcomes is incredibly labor intensive.  The idea of monitoring a “control group” which receives nothing seems cruel and counter-cultural to us.  In reality, we are surrounded by  a control group – all the people we want to help but can’t.  It breaks our hearts.  Engaging with them to measure how bad off they continue to be just doesn’t work for us.

However…(of course there is a “however”) We are as concerned as anyone that we are doing the right thing, using our resources wisely, being good stewards of the generosity of others, and leading as many people to a better, sustainable life. We agree that pure charity has limited application, we get the ” a hand up vs a hand out” concept.  Our ministries and our organizational vision and mission reflect that.  We are constantly taking stock of our programs and actions to ensure we are developing people’s ability to be self-sufficient.

Metrics?  Sometimes anecdotal measures (measures that typically “don’t count”) are all we have.  Here’s one for you.

Jorge, far left, and family

Jorge has been out of the Children’s Home for about 6 years.  Like the others, he came from a horrific environment of abuse and poverty.  Now, he lives with his mother, a dear but still impoverished woman.  He finished high school and is now in University.  He remains devoted to his brothers and sisters, many of whom are still in the Children’s Home.  He just recently wrote this song for a CD our Praise Band will be recording.  Mind you, he isn’t in the praise band!  He simply felt moved to contribute music to it.

Quiero Tu Amor Perfecto – Jorge Hernández
I Want Your Perfect Love – Jorge Hernandez
Puedo escucharte hablar al comenzar y finalizar el día
I can hear You at the beginning and end of the day
Puedo escucharte sonreír cuando pongo mi amor y fe a Ti
I can hear You smile when I put my love and faith in You
Puedo escucharte cuánto me amas cada momento de mi vida
I can hear you when You love me every moment of my life
Cuando sale el sol
When the sun rises
Y todo queda en silencio me haces sentir mejor
And all is silent, You make me feel better
Pasas tu mano sobre mí para sanar mis heridas
You pass your hand over me to heal my wounds
Creas salidas donde no hay
You create a way where there wasn’t one
Creas tiempo para mí cuando no tengo
You make time for me when I don’t have any
Tu atención hacia mí es tan valiosa
Your attention to me is so valuable
Que no me quiero apartar de Ti
I don’t want to be apart from you
Déjame sentir Tu amor perfecto
Let me feel your perfect love
Déjame amarte tanto que nada más importante
Let me love You so much that nothing is more important
Solo Tu, solo Tu
Only You, only You
Solo me importa Tu amor perfecto
Only your perfect love is important to me
Tu amor perfecto
Your perfect love
Quiero Tu amor perfecto
I want your perfect love

6 years later, this young man has been able to graduate from high school, enter university and writes a song to the Lord he loves.  How’s that for results?