It Takes a Village to Measure Outcomes

Laurel Molloy began teaching public workshops at the Support Center back in 2001. Since then, she has expanded her involvement to include a wide variety of customized on-site trainings and ongoing consulting engagements. She is Founder and CEO of Innovations Quantified (IQ), a consulting firm that has been helping organizations increase their impact since 1999. 

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Written by Laurel Molloy

Nonprofits often think the key to successful outcome measurement is hiring someone whose sole responsibility is data management.  But that is not necessarily true.
During my 20+ years working on this important issue, I have found the most successful efforts engage staff members from across the organization.
Here are some specific ways key staff members can positively influence the outcome measurement process within their agency.

 

Executive Director:  must prioritize, support, and reinforce

  • Makes tracking and reviewing results a clear organizational priority. Even in the face of competing obligations, gives staff the time and resources they need to do the work.
  • Does not dominate the process. Recognizes the importance of many voices – to build buy-in and develop a reasonable measurement plan – and therefore asks the staff at all levels to contribute throughout.
  • Reinforces good institutional habits. Ensures outcome discussions are regularly incorporated into meetings, reports, retreats, trainings, and other forums.
  • Emphasizes learning first. Conveys that it is more important to review and learn from the data than to have results that demonstrate a “perfect” program.


Program Leaders and Line Staff: must focus, commit, and utilize

  • Help ensure efforts are focused on the right things. Speak up to ensure outcomes, indicators, and measures are truly reflective of the work.
  • Collect data regularly. Realize data can be useful in informing their work, so make a point to capture it consistently.
  • Review and consider data. Work together to review and interpret findings, determine how to address emerging issues, and build upon successes. In other words, own the data.

 

Measurement Coordinator: must facilitate, motivate, and adapt

  • Takes many forms. Whether a dedicated “evaluation” person or simply a program leader, serves as primary coordinator of the outcome measurement and management process.
  • Champions the effort. Helps ensure everyone, including the Executive Director, keeps outcomes top of mind.
  • Assists staff in tracking, compiling and reviewing results. Advocates for needed resources (e.g., outside help, new database, a simplified process) and provides support to staff, but doesn’t do everything for them.

 

Becoming a more outcome-focused organization is an ongoing process, which often requires steadfast commitment and follow through to create the new institutional habits. Having various people play a role – rather than expecting one person to do it all – can help organizations not only develop meaningful plans but also stick to them for the long haul.  

For more information on change consultant and how agents of your organization can contribute to the process of outcome measurement contact Carolyn Champ, Associate Executive Director. Or visit our full events calendar for upcoming workshops related to outcome measurement.

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