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Free VfI resources
Your guide to open-access Value for Investment resources
If you’re subscribing to this series of articles, you’re possibly interested in the Value for Investment (VfI) approach, a way of getting better answers to ‘value for money’ questions with rubrics, mixed methods (bricolage, even?), participatory (and empowerment) approaches and some economics.
My mission is to share VfI with anybody who's interested, and support them in using it to provide valid, credible, useful and ethical evaluations that contribute to good decisions and positive impacts.
To that end, most of the content is freely available. I see it as paying something forward to a profession that I’ve been lucky to be a part of since last century (1999!). Many colleagues have generously shared their knowledge to help grow this rich and diverse field, and their generosity has helped me grow as an evaluator. VfI is my contribution, aimed at supporting better evaluations of resource use and value creation.
I’m continually thinking about ways to make content more accessible. I have a rough strategy in my head. I’m partway through implementing it. Some components are up and running, others have yet to be started. It’s flexible and adaptable to meet requests as they come up. This is my first attempt to represent it in a diagram.
At the base of the triangle are free resources that I hope will be widely shared and used. For many people, this will be all they need. At the pointy end is the option to engage me for training and mentoring (I do charge for my time). The missing middle is a work in progress.
This post gives an overview of the foundations of the pyramid: the free stuff on my website and here on Substack.
Quick overviews of the VfI approach
For those who want the briefest introductory overview of the VfI approach to share with their boss, client, board, or stakeholders, or for those who are VfI-curious and want a super-quick intro, I recommend:
This downloadable, printable one-page PDF overview (1-minute read)
The VfI landing page on my website (2-minute read)
This animated overview on YouTube (2-minute watch).
The following open-access documents provide practical guidance on the VfI system. They’re designed for busy people who want to get cracking and put VfI into practice. They focus on the ‘how’, together with guiding principles and references to evaluation literature.
OPM’s approach to assessing value for money - a guide (King & OPM, 2018). This guide was written with the international development sector in mind, but the principles are easily transferrable to any evaluation that needs to answer ‘value for money’ questions.
Value for Investment - application and insights (King, Crocket, & Field, 2023). This guide is written for people who need to provide clear answers to ‘value for money’ questions in health and community services. It describes the principles and processes underpinning the VfI system together with a worked example of VfI in action, in a youth primary mental health and addictions setting.
A Value for Investment report deconstructed. This web page deconstructs a VfI report to illustrate how we followed a sequence of 8 steps to provide succinct findings, backed by evidence and reasoning.
If you want to take deeper dives into the theory underpinning VfI, or investigate the academic provenance of the approach, the following resources are available for free:
King, J. (2019). Evaluation and Value for Money: Development of an approach using explicit evaluative reasoning. (Doctoral dissertation). Melbourne, Australia: University of Melbourne.
King, J. (2019). Combining multiple approaches to valuing in the MUVA female economic empowerment program. Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 19(4), 217-225.
King, J., Allan, S. (2018). Applying Evaluative Thinking to Value for Money: The Pakistan Sub-National Governance Programme. Evaluation Matters—He Take Tō Te Aromatawai, 4, pp. 207-235.
King, J. (2023). How should Program Evaluation Standards inform the use of cost-benefit analysis in evaluation? Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation. Vol. 19, No. 43.
King, J. (2021). Expanding theory-based evaluation: incorporating value creation in a theory of change. Evaluation and Program Planning, Volume 89, December 2021.
King, J., McKegg, K., Oakden, J., Wehipeihana, N. (2013). Rubrics: A method for surfacing values and improving the credibility of evaluation. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 9(21), 11-20.
Additionally, there’s my article in the American Journal of Evaluation that first formally proposed the VfI approach. It’s paywalled by the journal but you can email me if you’d like a copy:
King, J. (2017). Using Economic Methods Evaluatively. American Journal of Evaluation, 38(1), 101–113.
Examples of VfI in action
Each time a new VfI report becomes publicly available, I add it to the VfI resources page of my website. Here are three examples:
King, J., Arau, A., Schiff, A., Garcia Aisa, M., McKegg, K. (2022). Social and Economic Impact Assessment of the RCA Programme: Radiotherapy Case Study. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
Field, A., Crocket, A., Garden, E., King, J., Moss, M., Parslow, G., Schiff, A., Spee, K., Wehipeihana, N. (2023). Youth Primary Mental Health and Addictions Evaluation. Final Report for Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand. Dovetail Consulting Limited, Auckland.
Hansford, F., Namukasa, E., Wate, D., Hurrell, A., King, J., Ward, P. (2022). Independent Evaluation of the African Risk Capacity (VfM section). Oxford Policy Management. Full suite of reports here.
On the VfI resources page you’ll find all the content above plus more examples, recommended books on economic methods of evaluation, and social media commentary where I’ve shared thoughts on various aspects of the approach.
Bookmark www.julianking.co.nz/vfi/resources. I’ll keep adding new material to this page. It’s intended for you to use and share.
You’re with me on Substack right now. But did you know I’ve recently added an overview and contents page to help you navigate the archive?
It’s free to subscribe and receive updates. New articles are open-access for the first two months after posting. For a quick dip into the full archive there’s a free 7-day trial period.
Paid subscribers have ongoing access to the full archive. I grappled with the question of whether to have paid subscriptions, and the decider was when some subscribers started to make pledges (you know who you are - thanks so much!). My primary driver in writing this stuff is for it to travel and get used. I don’t want cost to be a barrier. At the same time, I’m investing many hours into this and I feel the body of work does have a value. Paid subscriptions help keep me in coffee and electricity that fuels the thinking and writing.
And at the top of the pyramid…
Helping people get the best value from VfI, rubrics, mixed methods, inter-disciplinary and participatory evaluation approaches is what I do when I’m at work. The pointy end of the pyramid includes things like tailored training, advice, on-the-job mentoring and peer review. Next week I’ll share a capability-building framework that outlines ways we can work together...
Ngā mihi nui,