UNDEF Lessons Learned

An interactive platform open to all

How can civil society activists, practitioners, funders, and policy makers working to advance people’s rights and democratic participation learn most effectively from the experiences of others? How can they apply these lessons in designing or implementing a project, applying for funding, or monitoring and evaluating their work?

Through UNDEF’s interactive lessons learned mechanism, you can search a living, growing trove of learning about the design, implementation, and outcomes of projects worldwide. UNDEF launched the platform in 2017, with a grant from the UK Foreign Office Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy to encourage UNDEF’s use of in-house best practices and third-party evaluations as service for the broader community of practitioners and donors.

Users can search by theme, region, year, or their own search terms. Lessons range from the conceptual and strategic to the specifics of project management. Projects working with government, for example, have benefited from a precise level of specificity about which level of policy or decision-making they will target, and which duty bearers, service providers, or counterparts to engage. Proposals to train groups of citizens have proven more successful when they have demonstrated how participants can and will apply the training in their everyday lives. Projects to empower women are more effective when they involve male family members or community power brokers.

The tool is also used specifically by applicants for UNDEF funding, who are required as part of the proposal process to explore projects or project elements similar to the ones they have in mind, and to show that their proposals reflect relevant learning from others’ experiences. The tool has proven self-sustaining past the initial set-up costs. Humans, not algorithms, do the work of ensuring relevance and reliability. It involves no additional staff resources, as it has been incorporated into existing responsibilities.

UNDEFlessonslearned.org is low-bandwidth, making it easier to access from places that lack high-speed Internet service.

Click here to access UNDEFs interactive lessons learned database.