Non-profit organizations that serve their community and community members are consistently expected to track and report their impact to a wide variety of stakeholders, including funders, community members, political leaders, community partners and board of directors. One of the challenges with tracking and reporting impact is identifying and quantifying programmatic outcomes. In our experience, there are four main outcome indicator types of questions that organizations can use to measure individual participant progress.
Gain in Knowledge: The first step in moving toward impact is tracking an outcome related to a gain in knowledge. What have your participants learned from your programming? What is their change in knowledge from before your intervention as compared to after your services?
Change in Attitude and/or Understanding: Next, because of the knowledge gained is there evidence of an improved attitude or demonstrated change in understanding?
Change in Behavior: In support of knowledge-gain and change in attitude has there been a defined change in behavior?
New Norms: Finally, how has the individual changed in the overall standard of behavior as it relates to the social norms of the community? Is there demonstrated positive change across more than one behavior?
Identifying, tracking and reporting outcomes can be challenging but is an essential part of proving your impact. It is important for organizations to continue to track outputs (attendance counts etc.) and progress towards tracking outcomes through the short and long-term indicators outlined above. Just like those you serve, organizations need to grow and progress towards providing overall impact.
“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” Khalil Gibran