Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Have some questions? You can find the answers below. If your question & answer isn’t listed below, feel free to contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Is there a minimum level of education or background that you require from a facilitator who will conduct the surveys?


We require the following of all PS Facilitators:

Background and training

  • Social Work or Auxiliary Social Work or Counseling or Therapy or Coaching or Psychology or Facilitation or ex-teacher, ex-nurse, ex-pastor … you get the idea.Someone who can hold a family or individual in a “safe space”.
  • Individuals with strong community development and facilitation backgrounds, but they must be able to handle issues of a sensitive nature with integrity and confidentiality.


  • Passion for the poor
  • Strongly empathetic without being ‘rescuers’
  • Curious
  • Compassionate
  • Non-judgemental
  • Confidential
  • Excellent listeners
What are our options regarding facilitators, the people who are going to do the surveys? What if we don't have access to people who have the right kind of background to do this work?

Answer: There are two scenarios here

Scenario 1: If you become a member of the PS movement and you have access to people with the right backgrounds – social workers, counselors, coaches, therapists, psychologists, etc – and who are already in your employ, then we can train them to be PS facilitators. It will cost you nothing extra to have them trained as this is part of the annual membership fee and you can send them out to do the surveys whenever you need to because they are in your employ already (no extra costs for you). But your organisation has to become a member of the movement in SA. The only condition that we make is that, if at all possible, your facilitators will be required to shadow a trained, experienced PS facilitator on at least one home visit and also attend an ‘unpacking’ session at one of our existing member organisations to understand how we use the data they collect. We arrange all of that.

Scenario 2: If you don’t have access to these sorts of people, then you could use the facilitator database on our website to contact a growing list of trained and experienced PS facilitators who will conduct these surveys on your behalf. There is a standard rate per survey that includes travel and other miscellaneous costs, as well as feedback at an ‘unpacking’ session, unless the location is rural … but that is a negotiation between yourself and the PS facilitator. We’ve found that in Cape Town, organisations who don’t have in-house facilitators are raising funds to do these surveys and making sure they include a budget in proposals for future projects and year 2/3/etc. of their programmes.

Are there any lessons learnt that you could share around what type of facilitators would be successful versus those that have been unsuccessful?


We find that language and culture play an important role in allowing the beneficiaries to open up and be honest in the survey. Therefore, we send ‘black’ and ‘coloured’ PS Facilitators to survey most beneficiaries in their homes so that they don’t feel inadequate or embarrassed about asking ‘silly questions’ or not understanding concepts or phrases in the survey.The Clothing Bank has mostly worked with women beneficiaries and find that women facilitators are great at surveying women-led households. Other organisations have used both male and female facilitators to survey male clients and they seem to be experiencing good responses.

PS Facilitators are trained to bring back two things: an honestly completed survey and a narrative of what is going on in the household. They have to be curious yet diplomatic in their questions and not be afraid to ask tactfully for evidence of why the family chose to answer in a specific way. Their story (qualitative narrative) together with the survey (quantitative data) is what creates the magic of the Poverty Stoplight approach. Most importantly, we need to understand in what ways they feel they are stuck and how they got there?

Another lesson learned is that it’s not a good idea to use someone as the PS facilitator if they come from the same community or location of the people/families with whom you want to conduct surveys. Nobody wants someone in their own community knowing their situation or personal challenges. Choose facilitators from other locations, and swap them around into unknown communities. This works really well!

Note: We usually ask PS Facilitators, whether external (on contract) or internal (employed permanently by an organisation) to sign a Poverty Stoplight Facilitator’s Agreement.

For the PS Facilitators that are employees, what is their capacity in terms of the number of interviews they can do per week?


A survey takes about an hour to complete, the average being just over an hour. It seems that 4-5 surveys per day is the maximum number that should be conducted by PS Facilitators when going to visit households. It’s tiring; emotionally draining and can lead to emotional fatigue. For office interviews, this number can almost double.

What is an acceptable lag after the programme has started for the baseline assessment to be conducted? (i.e. is it still ok if the baseline assessment is only conducted 2 or 3 months after the programme/intervention starts?)


It depends on how long the programme lasts. For example, if the programme length is 2 years, then 1-2 months is an acceptable lag. It also depends on the reasons why you are using the tool, i.e. if baseline is important then yes, you want to get this data at the beginning of the programme; however, if you start late for the first intake, there’s no reason why you still wouldn’t want this data to assess what you are dealing with.

With regards to the once-off PS facilitator training, is there any way that we could do a train-the-trainer session? If we were to need 50 trained PS Facilitators at scale for example, would we be able to have someone trained in-house to train all subsequent facilitators that joined us?

Answer: The answer is most definitely yes. We would be happy to do a train the trainer session. However, the major issue you have to overcome here is the quality of facilitator that you are training … which has repercussion for the number of good facilitators that you can find who could and should be doing this work. As answered in a question above, we require that the PS Facilitators have specific backgrounds. This is non-negotiable. We cannot tell you how important this is. These facilitators don’t only bring back the completed survey data, they bring back the story of what is happening in the homes of the beneficiaries we serve. PS Facilitators of high calibre and experience know how to deal with sensitive interviews, manage confidential information and hold the family in a safe space.

How can I apply to become a trained PS Facilitator? And can I be listed on the database as an independent facilitator who is available for Poverty Stoplight work?


Only facilitators who have undergone training by The Greenlight Office and who are specifically trained in the use of the Poverty Stoplight survey tool and methodology will be listed on the database of facilitators and recommended for engagement in programmes.

You can apply to become a trained PS Facilitator and listed on the database through our Contact page on the website.

What is involved in becoming a PS Facilitator? What will I be required to do?


You need to attend training provided by The Greenlight Office, which covers the indicators and definitions of the survey, the survey process, messaging and scripting, feedback from experienced PS facilitators, technology.. The course is a minimum of 5 hours and you will need to bring a tablet with you (Android with GPS and preferably wifi). The cost of the course is R500.

After this training, at an arranged time, we would like you to shadow an experienced PS Facilitator (if possible) who will take you on a household or office visit where you will watch and listen how to conduct the survey and the messaging that is used. It is vitally important that utmost respect is shown to the families we survey. Additionally, and harder to arrange, it would be worthwhile for you to attend an “unpacking” session where you visit the office of an organisation who has recently completed surveys and watch as they unpack the data and interpret the results. It can be an eye-opening experience! After that, you are ready to go.

I have other indicators and questions that I would like to add to the PS survey. Is this possible?


In South Africa, we would like everyone to be using the same version of the tool so that we can compare apples with apples and leverage the aggregated data. We are recommending that you create your own survey (paper-based or using an online tool such as Survey Monkey) and run it alongside the PS survey when you do your home visits. Religious questions are not in line with the philosophy and ethos of the Poverty Stoplight intentions (neutral, unbiased, non-judgemental, non-religious) and therefore should not appear in the same survey. Additionally, your questions may be very specific to your initiative’s needs and we can see why you would like to collect this data – it is important to you – however, this data will not serve the PS community as a whole and, for the moment, we need to keep them separate until the technology (specifically the reporting and graphing functionality) has been advanced to cater for this kind of request.

If we are experiencing issues or challenges with a specific indicator in the survey, what should we do? For example, our beneficiaries are struggling to understand the question about access to credit facilities.


If you are struggling with an indicator, we want to know about it! This tool has been researched and customised for a South African context but it will definitely progress and evolve over the years as we receive more input from all our Members. One of the biggest reasons for having a membership model is so that we can enable organisations to collectively engage in the evolution of a tool that is gaining traction in Africa. So we want your input! There are two main ways to provide feedback – contact us via the Contact page on the website and attend our Forum sessions where we discuss lessons learned and challenges experienced by Members.

Are there restrictions about what this tool can be used for?


This tool is particularly good tool to use for baselining and ongoing longitudinal assessment of programme effectiveness. However, the Poverty Stoplight approach is a relational tool that creates expectations in those who are being surveyed. Membership and usage of the tool is only endorsed for those organisations who are actually running poverty-elimination programmes and who intend to use the information resulting from the surveys to actually do something about it. Using the tool for (a) research purposes only, or (b) where data generation is the main outcome, is not endorsed. Data sold or given for commercial purposes will be strictly prohibited.

Are there restrictions about who can or should use this tool?


Not really. Programmes that focus on poverty eradication, enterprise development and community upliftment and empowerment will benefit the most from using the PS approach. But the corporate sector too can benefit from using this tool by (a) identifying poverty levels of their own employee base (what’s happening in your own backyard?) and (b) identifying community needs within the geographical footprint of their business.

Foundations and corporate CSI who sponsor poverty-related programmes could also endorse this approach as a valued M&E mechanism and approach to evidencing impact. Government can use the aggregated data from this approach to inform and enhance decision-making for services such as electricity and sanitation, and to influence priorities for engagement.

Do I have to become a Member of the Poverty Stoplight Movement in order to access the tool?


In South Africa, yes. If you would like to use the tool as configured and localised for the South African context, then you have to join the SA Movement and become a Member. Why? Because the benefits of sharing data and leveraging aggregated data is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

The benefits of becoming a Member include:

  • A collaboration space for organisations working to eradicate poverty in South Africa
  • Enabling organisations to measure outcomes against a common framework
  • Aggregation of data which offers a better perspective of the real issues on the ground
  • The more policy-relevant information there is available on poverty, the better equipped policy-makers will be to reduce it
  • Referral pathways that will ultimately inform stakeholders of priority areas for engagement
  • The establishment of a community of practice
  • Enabling organisations to collectively engage in the evolution of a tool that is gaining traction in Africa
What are the ‘rules’ around sharing data?


Organisations who subscribe for membership automatically have access to shared data.

  • The intent of the Poverty Stoplight approach is to yield collective impact, not individual impact, thus data will only be shared and used for collaborative purposes and to meet the agenda of poverty eradication. Data sold or given for commercial purposes will be strictly prohibited.
  • Data may be purchased by non-members (e.g. government depts) but only (a) with permission from the PS Forum and (b) if the intent is non-commercial gain.
  • A high level of data will be available for public consumption via the Poverty Stoplight website and geo-referenced maps (e.g. via Google Maps) but will not include a granular level of detail. This is to ensure compliance with the PS Office’s confidentiality policies and to protect the rights of beneficiaries.
How is the data treated regarding confidentiality? If we become a Member, who can see the data?


The PS Office is the only entity that has access to all PS data and has signed a non-disclosure agreement. Access is important for admin and troubleshooting capability.

Organisations who subscribe for membership automatically have access to their own data, and access to other macro-level Poverty Stoplight data on request.

Up to now, all Poverty Stoplight survey results and data have been stored and encrypted on the servers of the technology service provider, Hewlett Packard. They provide a service to thousands of international customers who make use of their survey platform and there are very strong controls in place to cater for international requirements and governance standards.

Since August 2015, Fundacion Paraguaya (the founders of Poverty Stoplight) have taken over the development and maintenance of the front-end platform and technology (e.g. the app and report platform).

Statement from the founder, Fundacion Paraguaya:

All data created in the Visual Survey Platform (VSP) is synced in a secure Microsoft Azure Cloud system. The data is saved in a set of SQL database tables. Each tenant (the account created for each organization) has a different schema of tables in the database. Azure runs in geographically distributed Microsoft facilities, sharing space and utilities with other Microsoft Online Services. Each facility is designed to run 24x7x365 and employs various measures to help protect operations from power failure, physical intrusion, and network outages. These datacenters comply with industry standards (such as ISO 27001) for physical security and availability. They are managed, monitored, and administered by Microsoft operations personnel. All VSP data is located in the ‘Central US’ datacenter located in Iowa. Built-in cryptographic technology enables customers to encrypt communications within and between deployments, between Azure regions, and from Azure to on-premises data centers. The data is encrypted through a combination of hashing and encrypting algorithms, preventing the files from being readable outside of the application.Azure allows customers to encrypt data and manage keys, and safeguards customer data for applications, platform, system and storage using three specific methods: encryption, segregation, and destruction. For data in transit, Azure uses industry-standard transport protocols between devices and Microsoft datacenters and within datacenters themselves. When customers delete data or leave Azure, Microsoft follows strict standards for overwriting storage resources before reuse. As part of our agreements for cloud services such as Azure Storage, Azure VMs, and Azure Active Directory, we contractually commit to specific processes for the deletion of data.

More information on data management and confidentiality can be found on the following webpage: