Change is rarely attributable to a single factor alone. It’s possible that the evaluation’s causal explanations are overly optimistic or pessimistic because numerous variables that jostle together to take the limelight to influence the outcome. 1

In this short piece, I touch on the concepts of attribution and contribution and how they impact the evaluation discourse. Social change is impacted by multiple interconnected factors, including socioeconomic, environmental, political, and cultural aspects, influence social impact, making it challenging to isolate a single cause-and-effect relationship or show clear attribution.
Detailed account here.

What is attribution?

Attribution refers to the clear identification of a single factor as the cause of a specific outcome, which can be difficult due to the complexity of social issues.

So why do we need to understand contribution?

Demonstrating contribution is a more realistic approach and can help evaluate the success of the program while providing credible information on the investment made.

What will this look like in practice?

To address the question of contribution and attribution, it is essential that the right questions are queried through a mixed-methods approach. Exploring how the program influenced observed results or why certain outcomes occurred, can be valuable for contribution analysis. A mixed methods approach is recommended for a well-rounded narrative, with flexibility and the use of various tools like surveys, focused group discussions, in-depth interviews, and case studies to illustrate findings effectively. By adopting a contribution-focused perspective and employing appropriate research methods, global development practitioners can better understand the impact of their interventions and make more informed decisions for positive social change.

As always, for questions, feedback, or input, I would love to hear from you. Lets connect!