The Future of Aid: Building Knowledge Collectively

This paper, written by Ruth Levine and William Savedoff for the Center for Global Development, outlines how impact evaluations funded by aid agencies can promote good governance and accelerate progress in the developing world. The paper continues by highlighting the conditions that need to be in place in order to gain the benefits of collective investment in what works. 


"In this paper, we seek to articulate how program evaluation generally, and impact evaluation specifically, contribute to good governance – not as a replacement for politics, but as means of both learning and accountability. We then argue that institutions with the mandate to accelerate progress in the developing world through foreign aid – aid agencies – are particularly well suited to fund impact evaluations. We argue, in fact, that funding policy relevant impact evaluations through a collective vehicle like 3ie should be one of their primary activities. Finally, we highlight the conditions that need to be in place – and require additional efforts – to yield the full benefits of collective investment in finding out what works."


  • Introduction 1
  • Politics First, Effectiveness Second 2
  • Evaluation Holds Much Promise 3
  • Impact Evaluation is an Evolving and Growing Field 5
  • Future Progress in Impact Evaluation is Threatened 10
  • Aid is Uniquely Suited to Impact Evaluations 11
  • Collective Is More Effective 16
  • A Bright Future for Aid? 21


Levine, R. and Savedoff, W. (2015). The Future of Aid: Building Knowledge Collectively, Center for Global Development. Retrieved from:

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