Clearly, the ‘number of people trained’ does not say much about the actual impact of a project.

Training doesn’t necessarily translate into impact, people have to apply what they learn.

Still, development cooperation sets itself targets like this because they are more tangible than the actual impact.

It is easier to count trainees than to gauge what people did with their newly gained skills and knowledge.

Fair enough maybe. You need something measurable to show success and be able to improve.

However, in terms of communications, the question remains whether you can sell the number of people trained as an impact to your readers — especially when your prime target group is familiar with development cooperation.

Probably not if you make participation data your focus.

So how can you still use it?

I guess what you can do is two things:

✅ Make sure that you don’t leave these numbers standing alone without „impact context”.

Show how you can reasonably expect for the training and the numbers to translate into impact — specified impact that is — then mentioning the number of people trained can make perfect sense.

✅ Remember that it is important to look at the value-added for the prime reader. This should shift your focus away from sheer numbers to what the trainees really gained and what they did afterward.

What worked in the process that can be emulated by other projects? Maybe this can also be quantified in some way.

Does this help you resolve the old question of how useful training participation numbers are and how you can use them in your outreach?

Let me know, what you think.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash