Outcomes & Results Measures

Outcomes are defined as the benefit to the customer or client: what changed in someone’s life because of your service. Outcomes answer the So what? question of your work, focusing on the impact of your service rather than the number of people you’ve served. 

In order to obtain meaningful information on organizational and program effectiveness – and truly improve performance – nonprofits must monitor program success systemically. In addition, funders are increasingly requiring nonprofits to evaluate their programs and demonstrate results.

Often, however, program managers are overwhelmed or intimidated by the evaluation process, and in particular by the first steps: creating outcomes measures, a data collection method, and a way to monitor program-generated data. That’s why GCN’s Nonprofit Consulting Group is here to help you understand, manage, and monitor the process.

Some of the key steps the Consulting Group can help you tackle:

  • Developing a program evaluation team – the people who will be collecting the data – that can work together to define what success means for your program and what the benefit is for a client that takes part in your program
  • Writing outcomes measures, including a target and an indicator, for each program (up to five per program) 
  • Identifying the data you need with a close read of your outcomes measures’ indicators
  • Designing your data collection system
  • Setting a baseline for your outcomes measures with newly-collected data (if needed) and a target for where you want to go 
  • Collecting and analyzing the data, and ensuring that you are collecting the right data – that is, data that is both consistent and useful in evaluating the program 
  • Building a dashboard (a visual representation) to use in your data review 
  • Reviewing data quarterly and discussing how to improve the program
  • Finalizing evaluation with data analysis and a report on the findings

To learn more about how GCN’s Nonprofit Consulting Group can help you create, monitor, and evaluate outcomes measures, contact us at consulting@gcn.org or 678-916-3082.

Insights from our team

Most program leaders begin thinking in terms of outputs – how many served or how many graduated – which is not the same as outcomes. Outcomes can be identified by asking what changed for the client: What impact did you have on their behavior, skills, or knowledge?

Outcomes measurement requires a new mindset, strong support from the organization’s top leadership, and, oftentimes, a change in organizational culture.

The full process, from writing outcomes measurements to a finalized program evaluation, takes about 3 years. Year one is for getting the outcomes measures correct and collecting baseline data; year two is for measuring outcomes against your targets and estimates; and year three is for analyzing data to produce a full evaluation.