Measurement and Evaluation in Nonprofits: The Processes

We know that measurement and evaluation are critical to show the success of your agency’s programs and services. And we understand it’s challenging for many nonprofit leaders to get started, as we illustrated earlier this month. Perhaps because of these reasons, two of Brighter Strategies most popular resource guides are “Outcome Measurement: From Theory to Implementation” and “Evaluating Performance Outcomes: A Guide to Implementing Program Evaluations”. During the next two months we will describe the processes from these e-books on the Brighter Strategies Blog, complete with real-world examples to illustrate implementation.

First things first: the definitions

Outcome measurement is the determination and evaluation of a program’s results, and their comparison with the intended or projected results. Program evaluation is the process of collecting information about a program or some aspect of a program to make necessary decisions about that program. Below you can see the processes side by side, to compare and contrast the two. Take a look: How are outcome measurement and program evaluation similar? How are they different?

Steps
Outcome Measurement Process
Program Evaluation Process
One Assess your organization’s readiness. Assess your organization’s readiness.
Two Select the program and create a plan.

 

Start with the end in mind by identifying clear program outcomes.

 

Three Describe the program’s mission and activities using a logic model.

 

Develop a data collection plan: Choose data gathering methods that support your program’s needs.
Four Identify the program’s intended results, or outcomes.

 

Identify resources.
Five Identify indicators of success for each outcome.

 

Determine program outcomes.
Six Determine appropriate data collection processes, and collect data. Review and analyze data.
Seven Analyze data to better understand program achievements.

 

Create a logic model.
Eight Report data findings in a user-friendly format.

 

Track and use outcome and evaluation results to inform strategic management.

 

Nine Use the findings and take action to improve the quality of the program. Integrate results into strategic program planning.

 

 

Measurement and evaluation: a comparison

As you can see above, outcome measurement is the part of program evaluation that focuses specifically on program results. Other important observations:

  • Assessment is the first step for measurement and evaluation. Last quarter Brighter Strategies dedicated an entire blog series to the topic of assessment, including assessing individuals, groups or teams, and organizations. Learn more here.
  • Data collection and analysis are integral for both measuring outcomes and evaluating programs.
  • Both processes are designed for bigger picture planning, people, process, and performance improvement. Measurement and evaluation are part of strategic management, the systematic analysis of external organizational factors (clients, stakeholders, and competitors) and the internal environment (employees, organizational systems, and processes) to achieve better alignment of organizational policies and procedures with strategic priorities.

What additional similarities and differences do you notice between the two processes? What questions do you have at this point about outcome measurement and program evaluation? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comment box below.