Dioptra for rapid and rigorous cost-efficiency analysis

Lead Organization: Stichting Vluchteling/IRC
Partners: Stichting Vluchteling/IRC, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, CARE, Action Against Hunger
Duration: December 1, 2018 – June 30, 2020
Goal: The Dioptra online tool helps program staff estimate the cost-efficiency of their program activities and generate comparable Value for Money evidence on approaches that can provide the most impact to the most people per euro spent.
Highlight: Dioptra has a user-friendly interface that walks program staff through a step-by-step process with a consistent analysis methodology. It automatically loads finance data, calculates the cost-efficiency for a program activity, and compares it with other programs to identify efficiency drivers and opportunities for improvement.

About the project

Due to the big gap between humanitarian needs and available funding it is crucial that funding is directed towards interventions that have the biggest impact on the most people per euro spent. Unfortunately, there is very limited evidence on which approaches provide the most Value for Money, because existing methods used to estimate cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness are not consistent across programs or organizations—this produces data that cannot be meaningfully compared to inform action.

The Dioptra tool was developed to conduct cost-efficiency analysis consistently across programs and organizations. It automatically uses available data from organizations’ finance systems, reducing the time to conduct an analysis from several days to a few hours. It is designed to be interoperable with any organization’s finance system while ensuring full data security and control.

To date, Dioptra has been successfully piloted in 10 projects within 8 countries. This analysis approach has been adopted by the Grand Bargain cash workstream as the ‘official’ way of analyzing program cost-efficiency. We have also established a Donor Advisory Group in which the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is participating in order to maximize the utility of data being produced, while minimizing the reporting burden and risk to individual organizations.

Learning Questions

  • How can Dioptra adapt to different NGO finance data and systems, with a consistent data model?
  • What are the minimum data security standards and controls required by different NGOs?
  • How do we ensure high user satisfaction with Dioptra across staff in many NGOs and many countries?
  • What are the incentives and enabling factors for NGOs to use Dioptra and share cost-efficiency results in sector forums?
  • How do we ensure the adoption, financial sustainability and good governance of Dioptra?



Contact lead organization Stichting Vluchteling/IRC
Jan Habraken
E: janhabraken@vluchteling.nl