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Creating Measurable Outcomes

September 5th, 2018


Outcome statements are change statements. They are critical to ensure you are collecting data that will inform program improvement efforts. They address the key question:

What do you expect will change as a result of program activities?

The statements provide the foundation from which all data collection questions will stem. Too often, organizations jump into creating surveys without outcome statements. The result can be asking questions that have nothing to do with understanding program impact or measuring progress. Like throwing darts at a board, hoping something will stick.

The process of creating measurable outcomes requires time, planning and collaboration. They provide direction, so when you’re ready to collect data what you ask is aligned to the outcome statements. You’ll throw darts, and hit a bullseye.

Alignment Example: Program activities & outcomes

What Does the Program Do? What Change is Expected as a Result?
Program Activity Outcome Outcome
Provide math and science classroom activities for at risk students Students will improve their attitude toward math and science Students will increase their interest in math and science

At a bare minimum, development and program staff come together to create these statements. Ideally, others are at the table depending upon the size of your organization. Development staff members can use outcome statements in their grant proposals and other fundraising activities as applicable. Program staff typically are the ones to collect the data. The result – development staff have the data they need to report to funders, and program staff have data they need to understand program successes and challenges. Bullseye!

“Outcome statements provided a concise direction on what change we want in our 4th and 5th grade participants. The process of creating measurable outcomes helped our program and development staff members literally get onto the same page as to what impact we wanted to have. This made funder reports easier to generate, and understanding where to hone our program plan clear.”

Want More?

Resource corner: Evaluation Mini Guide Series

This brief mini guide series goes into more detail on several evaluation subjects. The first one highlights how to create logic models and measurable outcomes.

Get the Guide

Now we have an amazing way to measure the physical, emotional, and mental effects of our programs...

Chari accurately captured the fundamental goals and mission of our organization and transformed our input into a clear evaluation process that helps us assess the impact of our programs on the lives of the families that we serve. Now we have an amazing way to measure the physical, emotional, and mental effects of our programs and to guide change, ensuring that we are delivering services in the most effective way possible.

Brandi Tuck, Executive Director, Portland Homeless Family Solutions

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