Thursday, June 13, 2013

Outcome Measurement on a budget

Several people have contacted me regarding what software I would recommend for measuring outcomes.  Several of them indicated they thought I didn't understand that small nonprofits have small budgets.  I definitely do understand cost parameters. This doesn't have to be an expensive process.

Every mission focus and program is going to have different goals, and there are a myriad different testing standards for each.  In the example I gave in the post "Measuring outcomes means more money for you" the nonprofit actually used the state testing criteria, and they got that (free) from their Department of Education website. You will have to decide what data collection method will produce the most credible results.  For instance, if you deal with child hunger and nutrition, you might want to download the USDA nutrition tables (again-free) and model your data collection to collect results that have the same headings. You may have to pay someone to administer standardized tests if said tests require some sort of certification of the results. Sorry, but not everything is free.

Other folks asked about how to present (report)  the data.  Again, there are several data reporting software packages out there, and yes, some of them are rather expensive.  You don't need to spend a lot of money to design a viable report.  You just have to understand the concept of concrete data, define the data report points, and capture the data. 

Here is a simple example that incorporates tables you can easily create in any document program. Hopefully this takes some of the angst out of outcome reporting on a budget.

Easy Outcome Measurement Example

Goal - Description
Applicable Program
Target Population
Goal met %
Goal not Met

Improve Reading Score to grade level after 13 week program is completed

Youth Reading Skills Tutoring - Session IA June -Sept 1999
 20 -  low-income Youth - Aged 6 to 12
See Data Measurement Results

Sample of Data Capture Sheet at end of program

Participant ID
Pre-Test Reading grade level, using State Competency test XX-XXX
Required Grade Level
Post Tutoring grade level
Improvement Goal Met

3rd- 4 months
5th- 8 months
5th -  7 months
Yes, within margin
4th-3 months
6th - 8 months
6th -  8 months
5th -8 months
6th - 8 months
6th-1 month

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