CCIVS promotes the value of International Voluntary Service as a tool for non formal and popular education, where learning is intended, organised, and can produce transformational change for the individuals, communities and organisations involved. By looking at our volunteer programs and participants with the support of strategic research, we therefore aim at building a path towards the recognition of such value, which is reflected in the progressive and complementary achievement of three objectives:
- Understanding our practices and the experiences of the participants, and how they influence each other, creating new knowledge, skills and attitudes about and towards themselves, their communities and the larger and interconnected global society;
- Improving the capacity of the organisations, communities and individual volunteers involved in our projects to positively take into account these accrued competences and become conscious actors of change;
- Valorising the unique processes and results that stakeholders create together thanks to the invaluable interactions of international voluntary service, giving them wider visibility across the institutional and public spheres.
CCIVS approach to impact is highly participative in nature, from the definition of common goals and questions with the members and stakeholders concerned, to the training of field practitioners and the innovative implementation of participative analysis and implementation research.
Utilising both quantitative and qualitative methods, it relies on two key concepts: the idea of change, as developed by several CCIVS members and partners during the first “Changing Perspectives” project, coordinated by Solidarités Jeunesses France, for the specific field of International Voluntary Service:
“A change or an effect on individuals, collectives or environments in the short, medium and long term. Produced by interaction between individuals, communities and environments in the context of International Voluntary Service actions. Perceivable, and as such could lead to social recognition or personal acknowledgment.”
And the idea of impact assessment, which looks at the correspondence between our goals and objectives as indicated in the Constitution and outlined by specific programs and projects, and the actual results we manage to achieve. This is exemplified by the definition given by Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman in Evaluation:
A Systemic Approach (2004):
“Impact assessments are undertaken to find out whether programs actually produce the intended effects. A program effect, or impact, refers to a change in the target population or social conditions that has been brought about by the program, that is, a change that would not have occurred had the program been absent. […] establishing that the program is a cause of some specified effect.”
Building on the key ideas of impact as change and assessment, the research work implemented by CCIVS and its members and partners is integrated in, and nourishes, the network’s structural processes of monitoring and quality improvement. These focus on the three pillars of International Voluntary Service, adapting different methodologies to address specific goals:
- Individuals (Quantitative and qualitative research, Training): Personal, Interpersonal and Social development, Life skills and competences.
- Communities (Qualitative research, participative analysis): Intercultural learning, Active Citizenship and Participation, Conflict Management, Technical Work and Realizations.
Organisations and Institutions (Implementation research, Capacity building, Pentagon methodology): Structure, Functioning, Relationships, Communication, Financial Sustainability.