Evaluation of Outcomes

Why is it Important to Measure Outcomes?

Organizations that are serious about their theory of change engage in regular self-assessment and evaluation of outcomes. The results of measuring outcomes can be shared with stakeholders to illustrate the impact of an organization's programs and activities, and to demonstrate the difference the organization is making in its community and in peoples' lives. Seeing the difference an organization is making on paper, in video, through testimonials -- is powerful. To be successful a nonprofit must embrace a culture that supports outcomes thinking. This is not as daunting as it sounds. First, understand that a little navel-gazing, when implemented for the right reason, is far from a waste of time. As urged in the powerful but easy-to-read book Leap of Reason, managing to outcomes needs to be integral to a nonprofit in order for its mission and the nonprofit itself to be sustainable.  Here are some resources to help your organization along the path to effective self-assessment and evaluation of outcomes - and ultimately to more effective delivery of its programs, services, and mission.

Tools for Evaluation of Outcomes

  • Charting Impact, a joint initiative of Independent Sector, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar USA.
  • Logic Model Development Guide (WK Kellogg Foundation)
    Measuring Outcomes (US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Compassion Capital Fund)
  • Perform Well offers tools (such as sample surveys and assessments) for human service organizations to use to evaluate outcomes. Also, the Urban Institute's Outcomes Indicators Project provides nonprofits with helpful case studies and guidance on how to collect and use data from outcomes measurement relevant to various types of programs.

How Should a Nonprofit Evaluate Programs?

Also visit the section on Management and Outcomes in the Council of Nonprofits' online bookstore.