Measuring what matters, one pemakna at a time

29 Nov 2022


Kamala Chandrakirana, Executive Board Member of Indonesia for Humanity

Indonesia for Humanity (IKa) was established to support pro-democracy movements and survivors of human rights violations. The organization was established by activists to support other activists through small grants. From the mid-1990s up to the early 2000s, we had mainly been donor dependent. But when Indonesia started to democratize, many donor agencies that had funded us also started to open their own offices within Indonesia and IKa lost much of its funding. In 2010, we started a new journey, experimenting with local fundraising and mobilizing local resources. Over time, we have learned that resources are not just about money; they include various intangibles such as networks which have also contributed to IKa’s evolution.

When we started the new journey, we did not want to replicate the hierarchical relationship that usually exists between donors and grantees. One of the first things we considered was the nature of our relationships with our ecosystem of partners and the people that receive our funds. We envisioned ourselves as part of a community of enablers in a circle of multiple actors playing different roles but positioned as equals. We also found it necessary to redefine how we measured success and to explore a different approach to measuring.

Why search for a different approach to measurement? We were unhappy with the current system, which is extractive and reductive in terms of capturing the complexity of our work. Moreover, it was also unaffordable to us: there is an entire industry of monitoring and evaluation that has a standard of payment that we would never be able to meet. But we also did not want to simply do a cheaper version of the conventional model. We needed to develop a new paradigm. When we engaged our partners to take part in a different way of measuring, many of them embraced the idea and shared just how traumatic the conventional model had been for them. All this coincided with a moment when we, the community of activists and movements in Indonesia, were going through a soul searching of our own as we saw the country regress in terms of democracy and human rights.


This is an excerpt of a blog written by Kamala Chandrakirana, Executive Board Member of Indonesia for Humanity. To read the piece in its entirety, head to the #ShiftThePower Treehouse.

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Always lovely to read, learn and be inspired by Kamals’s and IKa’s thoughtful work <3