‘Outcomes’ are the things that change for people because of an activity or action. When we measure outcomes rather than outputs, we are able to see the real and tangible difference that we are making to people’s lives.
Organisations are often asked to report on the ‘outputs’ of their activities, such as how many people have visited their website or participated in a peer support group. The NDIA want to know what difference your activities are making to the lives of people with disability and what the lasting impact will be. With ILC, therefore, the NDIA will ask organisations to describe, measure and report on outcomes, rather than just outputs. This means organisations will need to be able to describe the real difference their activities make to people’s lives.
Use the following table to learn the difference between activities and outcomes.
Run an after school program
Children make friends in a healthy environment
Employ a part time worker
Part time workers can afford to pay rent for a home
Run a Gym
People lose weight
Teach community activities about accessibility needs
Wheelchair users can go to the cinema
Teach students in University
Graduates have increased capacity to be employed
Why is it important to measure outcomes?
Shifting to an outcome-focused way of measuring your activities is important. It will help ensure you are delivering tangible results for people with disability. It will also:
- Prove your impact in a clear and compelling way
- Improve the impact of your services over time
- Increase your funding sustainability (e.g. bulk funding arrangements, pay by results contracts, social benefit/impact bonds)
- Demonstrate that your organisation’s approach is unique, integrated and good value for money
Start your outcomes journey now by using the helpful story builder tool to identify your ILC outcomes and better understand how to measure outcomes.
How will outcomes affect my organisation?
Demonstrating outcomes can be a big shift in how you work, especially if you’ve been focused on measuring outputs.
There are four main steps you can take to more effectively measure and manage your outcomes:
1. Tell your story of change
Your story, or ‘theory’ of change describes what you want to see happen for people with disability as a result of your work. Ask yourself:
- What issue or need do I want to be able to address?
- What groups will I work with?
- What activities will I deliver with these people?
- What changes, or outcomes, will I see as a result?
- What is my end goal?
2. Define how you will measure this change
Once you have a clear sense of what change you want to see and know how you will get there, you need to identify how you will determine if that change is taking place:
- What measures will you use?
- What evidence will you collect to indicate that your activity was successful?
3. Collect the information that demonstrates this change
Most organisations already collect a lot of information about their programs. Before you start collecting more, ask yourself:
- What information are you already collecting that you can use to demonstrate your change?
- What data collection tools can be adapted to collect any additional information you need?
This will help identify any gaps in your data collection methods. If you need to design new data collection tools to capture evidence of outcomes, ensure you build the capacity of your staff to use them.
4. Use this information to prove and improve on your work
Information you collect is only useful if you then do something with it. You should use it to do two things:
- Prove the value of your activities: Communicate your findings to funders, beneficiaries, staff and other key stakeholders. Outcomes can’t be achieved overnight, yet you can show that progress is being made.
- Improve on your activities: use the information to check if you are on track to achieving your outcomes. Refer back to your story of change – ask yourself:
- Is the program delivering what it set out to do?
- If not, why not? What needs to change?