Outcome measurement provides valuable information to your organization and funders that can help you achieve your goals and mission. Understanding a few basic principles of how to create an outcome management reporting process will set you up to successfully begin creating such reporting. Begin with the end in mind. When you take advantage of this mindset at the onset of a project you set yourself up to successfully track and then report outcome metrics. The first step of outcome measurement is to create and clearly define your goals. You may consider gaining the input of your key stakeholders. Benefitting from their expertise and solidifying their buy in for your project as they’ve now had a say in the foundational stages.
Step 1: Assessment
Take some time to assess your current status. As you take a look at where you’ve been you’ll have the ability to create a baseline or starting point for which progress can be measured. In addition this assessment will benefit you as you plan activities, ensuring they will succeed in moving your organization towards its intended goals. Be sure to identify your environment and industry understanding that your nonprofit is unique and its uniqueness should be taken into account when designing an outcome matrix. The varying aspects of the organization can greatly affect the best practices to employ in order to achieve maximum results. Be sure to create a customized evaluation in accordance with how your organization operates and its desired outcomes. Take advantage of the work you are doing assessing the organization and use it as a tool to learn more about creating best practices and effective processes for accomplishing your goals. After conducting a full assessment and creating a baseline it’s time to begin moving forward.
Step 2: Collecting information
In step two of the outcome measurement process you will begin to compile the data that will resource your outcome matrix reports. Most likely your organization has all of the records you need to create your reports. In some cases you will need to employ other methods of data collection such as surveys, interviews, and observations. Make sure you choose the best method for collecting data that will provide the most accurate, complete and reliable picture.
Step 3: Analyze the data
After collecting all of the data you are ready to begin the process of analysis. Don’t just think of this step as an opportunity to make charts and graphs. Now is the time to look over all of the information and begin to understand the story it is telling. Ask yourself what it all means. Now that you’ve collected all of this data it will be up to you to use it as a recourse to inform future decisions that will have the greatest impact and benefit to your organization and programs. This can be simple or complex depending on your chosen tools for analysis. Count, order and sort data or choose to perform statistical analytics to see different angles of the information. Use the data to find patterns and show trends. Whatever direction you take with data analysis be sure you have a clear goal in mind that supports your nonprofits mission.
Step 4: Communicate the results
You will need to decide what and how you want to communicate your findings. Identify your target audience for each set of results. Here are a list of ways you may choose to communicate your outcome measurements:
- Create a formal report outlining your evaluation process, data collection plan and your findings. Be sure to describe your desired outcomes and include action steps you have planned to take as a result of what your outcome measurement has taught you.
- Consider telling stories or doing case studies. These can also be included with your formal report but can prove to be valuable to future marketing campaigns as well.
- Put out a press release showcasing achieved goals and highlighting the success your organization has achieved.
- Drill down your results to a handful of social media worthy posts. Tell your story in a series of blogs, emails or create a social media campaigns.
- Use the information to produce commercials or marketing pieces and letters to your grantors.
All of this information can be efficiently tracked and easily accesses with the right tools. Utilizing a fund accounting solution for reporting or automating processes can save you time, energy and money. It can improve efficiency and effectiveness and ultimately allow you to be a better steward of the funds entrusted to your organization. Here at RBP methods we would love to help you find and implement outcome measurement tools that will maximize your ability to focus on your organization’s mission. Contact us to learn more.