ARTICLE • 5 min

The pros of standardised outcomes measurement

Metrics for outcomes measurement come in many different forms and types, but they are generally categorizable based on sector and the organisation’s intended outcomes. For example, an organisation that delivers education to girls living in remote areas would have very different outcomes, hence metrics, compared to an organisation that develops leadership skills among urban youth. 


Read our article on how to choose the right metrics for your measurement project.


Metrics quantify whether a program has achieved its intended outcomes. They are tangible and quantifiable indicators of whether change has occurred as a result of your program. 


Coming up with the right metrics for your measurement project can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. 


Metrics for social outcomes measurement do not always need to be created from scratch for every single program or intervention. Starting from a blank canvas each time can risk adding inefficiencies and complexity to your measurement project. 


We are already seeing a growing body of online metric catalogues to help organisations easily get started with their social outcomes measurement. Examples include IRIS and Global Value Exchange. Other tools like Socialsuite go a step further helping organisations build capabilities, by wrapping data collection capabilities around its library of outcome metrics.


In this article, I will highlight some of the benefits of using already existing industry-based metrics in your measurement project, and why reinventing the wheel is not always a good idea. 

 

  1. Using standardised metrics will add rigour to your measurement project 


In a 2020 poll of more than 120 respondents, greater than 80% said they are more likely to donate to a charity that can prove its impact. We also know from our experience working with the sector, that funders particularly Government are starting to mandate outcome reporting as part of their funding requirement. 


Evidence-based funding is gaining fast momentum and organisations who are unable to demonstrate robust evidence of their program’s outcomes could be left behind.  


Standardised metrics are typically designed by experts or research-based institutions, backed by a rigorous methodology and validity. Using metrics such as these will give you the assurance that the data you collect provides a reliable evidence-base for internal (e.g., making critical decisions around resource allocation, strategy etc) and external (e.g., securing funding, gaining the trust of your donors, beneficiaries etc) uses. 

  1. Standardised metrics provide a benchmark 


Creating bespoke metrics restrict you from comparing your program’s outcomes against other similar programs and activities within your sector. 


On the other hand, using standardised metrics enable you to perform benchmarking. 


Benchmarking provides a robust foundation on which to set the bar for your program’s performance, and encouraging program staff to rise to meet it. This ensures that your organisation only delivers a high standard of care and service to its beneficiaries, and will earn you tremendous credibility and stakeholder trust. 


Benchmarking also provides much needed visibility on the areas of your program that may need further improvement, ultimately creating a culture of evidence-based decision making around resource and funding allocation – all of which puts you in a great position for securing funding and earning the trust of your stakeholders.  


  1. Simplifies the measurement process for your organisation 


There will be less friction in enlisting the support and buy-in of your staff into outcomes measurement, if you can assure them that the process is simple and adds little to their existing workload. 


Using already existing metrics simplifies the process of setting up a measurement project, and it demystifies the perception that you have to be a researcher or a data scientist in order to create your own measurement project. 


Anyone can create their own measurement project. With the right tools to draw from, such as a curated library of measurement templates and metrics, any organisation can start a measurement project as easily as they would a simple poll or survey.

Dr Clara Ong
Cofounder and Social Impact Expert @ Socialsuite
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