Orgs using the Greenlight approach


Survey types available


Surveys conducted since 2015


% Households improved their quality of life in 1 year

The Power of the green light


The Greenlight Approach

The Greenlight approach is an unusual methodology that uses visual elements to engage people in self-diagnosing their quality of life. It puts people at the centre of their own development … and measurement! The metric uses the same colours of the conventional stoplight (red, yellow, green) to enable people in various contexts to see and understand the ways in which they are stuck, struggling, or doing well. For example: if you are working with socio-economically challenged individuals and families, then poverty (an insufficiency) is understood to be multi-dimensional, and the Greenlight Poverty survey assesses a family’s quality of life using indicators grouped into dimensions (themes) of poverty, resilience, or disability (depending on the metric being used). For every indicator, there are three scenarios that assist a person or household to describe their situation:

We follow the journeys from impoverishment
and dependence to independence and dignity



  • It has opened our eyes to what is really happening in the community. Once you know this, you can really start helping the people … and we’ve now noticed a lot of things we’ve never known about our community.

    Chery Abrahams, Facilitator, Learning In Reach
  • We have no idea what goes on in people’s lives …and we had no way of finding this out until we came across the Greenlight tool. Up till then, there had been a lot of assumptions made about people’s lives. At the end of each (survey) session, it seemed really positive and empowering … more of a celebration than anything else. It’s changed the way we see each other. You can feel the difference when you walk into a store that has had Love My Journey (Greenlight) and one that hasn’t. The energy is different. They become accountable to each other. It’s changed the dynamic.

    Kate Marais, CSI Manager, Food Lover’s Market
  • The Greenlight surveys acts as a mirror to those issues discussed in our Life Skills sessions … being reflected and played back to our beneficiaries in real life. We are excited to understand what individual poverty looks like … and at family level … to see those shifts as we teach people to become economically active, but focusing strongly on healing.

    Aleks Jablonska, Resource & Partnership Development , Learn to Earn
  • People are actually using Greenlight survey results in their day to day lives. Individuals have taken much more ownership of their lives. They are making plans and changing what they don’t like.

    Funeka Plaatjie-Njobeni, independent coach
  • This last financial year, when we had to do our annual financial report, it was the easiest annual report we’ve ever done, because we had so much data. When you can quote that the women on your programme are taking home (an amount), that’s music to your donors ears … you can extract data quickly in real statistical terms and be able to present that to any interested party.

    Tracey Chambers, Co-Founder, The Clothing Bank
  • I asked a colleague if she remembered that moment when we had the feedback session how she felt about the information we were hearing, and she used the word ‘gobsmacked’. We were literally GOBSMACKED with what we were hearing and the degree to which we were making assumptions as an organisation ... and in the most loving way, we were dis-empowering our beneficiaries! But it’s that typical situation where once you’ve seen it and heard it, you can’t un-see it and un-hear it. So, we absolutely knew that we were on the right track and we needed to keep going and there was a shift in methodology that was coming. We thought we were member-led, but actually we were steeped in the needs-based approach, from our culture, to our language, to our problem solving.

    Anne Dobson, CEO, NOAH
  • We see social impact data as a business asset. We connect the social impact data with what makes sense in a business context.  We look at what can we influence and change? Many research reports land on desks to die, because we ask questions without knowing what we are going to do and change when we have the answers.

    Mari Lee, CEO, DevCom
  • They didn’t see themselves as steeped in poverty, and this enabled us to change the language. They spoke about their assets and about what they do have. But what they didn’t see is how the future could be different. That was where they felt stuck. That was NOAH’s role, to step into that sweet spot and scaffold them to achieve that dream that they could see, but didn’t know how to get to.

    Anne Dobson, CEO, NOAH
  • We were doing too many things.  The strategy sessions and forum helped us to focus on what really works … and not just grab onto any outcome we could achieve.

    Nodumo Ndengez, Programme Manager, Beautiful Gate
  • As part of the forum and working with The Greenlight Movement, we’ve now met many organisations working in the enterprise development and poverty alleviation space, and they’ve got different competencies to us, so we’ve really built a better referral pathway network. We now know what the problems are, and we are very deliberately referring and making sure that connection does happen. We can only get better by working and sharing information across the sector. We’re going to really get a deeper understanding of where we are having impact and start referring beneficiaries to each other’s organisations … and stop the duplication! We’ve generated a significantly bigger network through being part of the Movement and the work that The Greenlight Office does is connecting and joining the dots … and it’s invaluable.

    Tracey Chambers, Co-Founder, TCB (The Clothing Bank)
  • We’ve had a lot of information from the team at The Greenlight Office. I’ve been very appreciative of the time they’ve spent with myself and the team building understanding of what it (Greenlight) is, and what the tool can do for us, and how best to approach it. I’m looking forward to The Greenlight Office supporting us in finding like-minded organisations that are going through this so that we can share best practice and learning and also find non-profits and others who can support and provide input when we start to discover the key issues that our employees are going through.

    Andrew Millson, HR Manager, Food Lover’s Market
  • By working with so many other organisations, The Greenlight Office can see the trends, what works, the pitfalls – they ask very strategic questions and this got our thinking clearer. Up to that point ,we were very excited to use the Greenlight tool, but the strategy sessions helped us define where we were going and how to achieve impact. It’s really nice to have a central office to link with, strategise with, learn from, and to work with other organisations.

    Louise de Marillac, Senior Social Worker, Christel House