Organizational Learning

Big ideas are found in small details. At Raising Voices, we often ask ourselves, “What does this mean?" and "Are we really making a difference?” But we have learned that asking these questions is not enough. By undertaking formal research as well as a variety of internal learning initiatives, we are discovering innovative ways to find the answers. The activities described below are designed to nurture a vibrant learning culture throughout Raising Voices, with equal emphasis on learning, reflection, and action.


Raising Voices works to strengthen the ability of activist organizations, including ourselves, to better assess–and learn from–our collective efforts to prevent violence.

Research Collaborations

What does it take to prevent violence against women and children? This question motivated Raising Voices to collaborate on two randomized controlled trials—the SASA! trial and Good School Study. While each study was a journey requiring intensive commitment and new learning, we discovered that the rewards are worth the effort: results provide rigorous evidence that these methodologies work, and that violence can be prevented within programmatic time frames. In addition to assessing impact, we are also engaged in a number of other research projects to advance our understanding of effective prevention programming.

Click here for more on current collaborations with research institutions.


Learning from Practice

Raising Voices understands a learning culture as . . . A collectively constructed organizational framework through which individuals and teams ask (and answer!) incisive questions about their work and intentionally seek out new perspectives. This multi-dimensional learning is a constantly evolving process that facilitates the flow of ideas, helps identify best practices, and nurtures collective discoveries.

Raising Voices understands practice-based learning as . . . The cumulative knowledge acquired from designing and implementing ideas and methodologies over a sustained timeframe, including insights gained from observation, direct experiences, and program monitoring.

In addition to formal research studies, Raising Voices uses assessments to explore key questions arising from our practice. Program Learning Initiatives help teams to take charge of their own learning through in-depth operations research expected to directly feed into strategic decision-making. In 2016, we completed the following initiatives:

  • Ending Violence against Women Course Review – an exploration of the extent to which participants of our Effective Violence Against Women courses  are able to incorporate workshop content into their own violence prevention work
  • Violence against Children Prevention Center – a case study to better understand the experiences of our Violence Against Children Prevention Centers across Uganda, as well as their engagement with communities and their successes and challenges in supporting implementation of the Good School Toolkit.
  • Boda-Boda Reflector Jacket Campaign Assessment – a mixed-methods study assessing the reach of our boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) reflector jacket campaign which bears the message “What are you doing to prevent violence against children?” This assessment offered a glimpse into the experience of both boda drivers and passengers while engaging with the campaign.
  • Sister-to-Sister and In Her Shoes Baselines – online surveys to inform two initiatives from the GBV Prevention Network that aim to increase solidarity and a shared approach to violence prevention among members.


Assessing our progress

In our own organizing at the community level, we struggled with important challenges around monitoring: How can we move beyond counting activities and numbers to assess the impact of our prevention efforts? Over the last few years, Raising Voices created new tools that help organizations monitor process as well as impact. The result: an activity report form to monitor the quality of activities and an outcome tracking form to assess outcomes on community-wide social norms. These tools are designed to enable community organizations to better track and measure progress on critical programming and prevention milestones.

Raising Voices is also committed to assessing our progress towards our objectives. Each team has a set of “Organizational Tracking Sheets” that includes clear benchmarks, each linked to larger conceptual questions about our programming and impact. This tool allows all members of staff to systematically track progress—big and small—including community activities, technical assistance sessions, publications and participation in local, regional and global events. On a quarterly basis, we reflect on these data as a way to remain accountable to the work we set out to accomplish, and to prompt critical thinking on any initiatives that require strengthening or revision.

Go to the SASA! Section

Reflective Processes

Raising Voices seeks to foster a culture of learning across the organization by creating space for shared analysis and synthesis with staff and external colleagues. Through a series of reflective engagements, we endeavor to think deeply and critically about the work we do each day, with the vision of creating something even better.

Reflective processes in the past year have included:

  • Staff development sessions to build critical skills
  • Staff tutorials to explore “non-work” ideas (e.g., health and wellness)
  • Unpacking Research sessions to jointly interpret research related to our programs
  • Learning Circles: one issue explored in-depth by all staff through reading, guest speakers, capacity building and critical reflection sessions
    2018: Mental Health and Violence Prevention. See summary document here.2019: A Feminist Approach to Violence Prevention. In process.

Research on SASA! sasa-logo

What does it take to prevent violence against women and HIV? This is the driving question behind the SASA! study. This study, a unique collaboration between Raising Voices, CEDOVIP, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Makerere University is investigating the impact of the SASA! approach in communities in Kampala.

Go to the SASA! Study Section

Learning from SASA! Adaptations Study

The Adaptation Study (funded by UN Trust Fund) is a three year case study to understand how SASA! is being adapted and implemented in various settings. It is designed to strengthen global implementation of SASA! for partners across the globe, to help them more effectively prevent violence against women.

While the results of a rigorous evaluation in Kampala, Uganda have demonstrated SASA!’s impact on preventing VAW, we are less certain about whether SASA! is being effectively adapted in other contexts to have the same effect.

The study will focus on analyzing strengths and challenges across three sites: Haiti, Kenya and Tanzania. Based on this learning, we will develop three user-friendly tools to guide & strengthen future adaptation and implementation of SASA!.

The Adaptations Study is a collaborative effort between Raising Voices and University of California, San Diego (as the main research partners), Beyond Borders in Haiti (a SASA! partner representing a ‘non-African’ context), International Rescue Committee in Kenya (a SASA! partner representing a humanitarian context), and Women’s Promotion Center in Tanzania (a SASA! partner representing a rural, small CBO context).

Good School Toolkit Studygoodschool-logo

The Good School Toolkit Study was a randomized controlled study conducted with 40 schools in the Luwero district of Uganda. The primary outcome of the study was the reduction in physical violence against children. The baseline was conducted in 2012 and the follow up in 2014. Our goal was to understand the impact of the methodology, which showed evidence that the Good School Toolkit is a credible tool for promoting quality education at scale within East Africa.

Go to the Good School Study Section

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