Taking the Confusion Out of Outcomes Measurement
When I started working on proposals years ago, both for contract and grant funding, I was always asked about outcomes, and ended up using stock language. I threw in some terms – capacity, enhancement, growth, impact, etc. but they never really directly applied to the organization, but were aspirational and overarching. However, funders and contracting officers are getting very savvy. They understand when an organization is actually measuring programmatic or organizational impact and when they are using language that is more conceptual in nature.
- Did the organization spend by funds wisely?
- Is there a return on investment with regard to the award?
- Did the award have an impact on the larger community?
- Did the recipient complete the deliverables as outlined in the scope of work?
Keeping this in mind, I can’t help but think about my 20-month year old daughter. She is very curious, but being a toddler, she is focused on doing what she wants to do at all times. Now, how does her behavior relate to outcomes?
- When she tries to go beyond her current capabilities, she gets frustrated or she ends up needing parental assistance. Lesson: Do not bite off more than you can chew and what your organization can handle. One step at a time.
- Her focus can be tunnel vision and lose sight of others around her (like moving cars). Lesson: Stay abreast of best practices in data collection and evaluation approaches.
- When she plays well with her brother, both of them are happy. Lesson: Collaboration and teamwork is important as programmatic, development and administrative staff should work together on building a cohesive evaluation strategy, and include other organizations as needed.
The development of a robust evaluation strategy is necessary for any organization. How can you possibly determine your impact and level of success if you don’t have any way to measure progress? Need some help discussing approaches to make this happen? Contact me and we can chat about it further.