Outcome Assessment is the process by which we measure the impact of our work. It is an essential function of strategic planning – and one of those concepts that is disarmingly simple, indispensably valuable, prone to over-complication and too infrequently practised.
Outcome Assessment means not ‘only’ monitoring and evaluating the quality and quantity of outputs but assessing the impact of those outputs. It is a subtle but profound change of emphasis. Too often, monitoring is seen as a matter of crunching numbers, ticking boxes and complying with funders’ demands, evaluation as something that happens at the end of a project as an end-note. By contrast, Outcome Assessment is a creative continual process.
There is a variety of ways in which organisations can begin to assess their outcomes, some of which are set out in this toolkit. Its principles however are central to the entire strategic planning process.
Because by not only measuring what we do but also assessing what we achieve – and doing this on a continual basis throughout a project’s lifecycle – we can judge how effective our outputs are at moving us towards the fulfilment of our strategic aims and objectives. Accordingly, Outcome Assessment enables us to retain flexibility, learn continually and make improvements to our work as we travel.
As such it can be an incredibly energising and motivating process. Moreover, funders are increasingly interested in funding mutually agreed outcomes rather than immediate outputs – and, in return, prepared to be more flexible on the means by which outcomes are achieved. In place of monitoring and evaluation being imposed from outside, Outcome Assessment provides a framework for understanding and doing things better. Outcome Assessment is our flexible friend.
Do you need help to assess your outcomes?
Community Southwark has secured funding from City Bridge Trust to run a three year programme, it is designed to help Southwark based organisations to understand how to measure and describe their impact. This project is called 'Demonstrating the Difference You Make', and this is a free service from Community Southwark to support local organisations.
If you need help to create and implement your outcomes framework, please contact Mariana - firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Southwark Useful Resources
Evaluating your Project: a quick guide to monitoring and evaluation for projects
Creating effective Monitoring & Evaluation Frameworks: explaning how to create your outcomes framework
Outcomes Evaluation Methods: an overview of the different methods for data collection
Why bother with measurement? 10 tips for making the case and finding the time
Developing your Outcomes Data Collection Tools: a quick guide to help you to explore the options available
Six Simple Steps to Great Impact Measurement: an useful article for the Small Charities week
Community Southwark Resources - Income Generation: fact sheets and resources showing you how to turn the evidence you collate into winning funding applications and marketing tools.
Community Southwark Resources - Influencing: Information and resources to help you use the evidence you gain to influence local decision makers and inform the sector.
Community Southwark Resources - Planning your future needs: fact sheets and resources to help you turn the evidence gathered into useful startegic and business plans.
Charities Evaluation Services: Provide tools, resources and training on monitoring, evaluation and outcomes measurement. This booklet offers a simple but systematic approach to monitoring and evaluating.
Inspiring Impact is an international collaborative programme, working with the charity sector to help organisations know what to measure and how to measure.
Better Evaluation: shares a wide range of information about options (methods or tools) and approaches to improve evaluation practice and theory.
The Center for Theory of Change is a non-profit organisation established to promote quality standards and best practice for the development and implementation of Theory of Change. A Theory of Change is the product of a series of critical-thinking exercises that provides a comprehensive picture of the early- and intermediate-term changes in a given community that are needed to reach a long-term outcomes articulated by the community.
New Philanthropy Capital: Provide indepth guidance on using the 'Theory of Change' process which can be used to identify the impact you want to achieve and how you can measure and show progress towards impact.
The Social Value UK: SROI is an approach to understanding and managing the value of the social, economic and environmental outcomes created by an activity or an organisation. It is based on a set of principles that are applied within a framework.
The Outcome Mapping Learning Community is a global, informal, open membership network for sharing information and facilitating learning on using Outcome Mapping Methodology for planning, monitoring and evaluating complex interventions.
Project Oracle: London’s first children and youth evidence hub, funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA), the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Project Oracle is improving the chances for children and young people in the capital by promoting quality evidence of what works, supporting services to improve the delivery of youth programmes and informing the funding process.
Demonstrating Value provides great tools for planning and demonstrating your value
PerformWell provides measurement tools and practical knowledge that human services professionals can use to manage their programs’ day-to-day performance. Information in PerformWell leverages research-based findings that have been synthesized and simplified by experts in the field. By providing information and tools to measure program quality and outcomes, PerformWell helps human services practitioners deliver more effective social programs.
How to measure your impact as a small charity article: Charities can evaluate their results despite lack of funds – starting by asking themselves some pertinent questions