A very interesting report on outcomes and impact measurement has just been released by UWA’s Centre for Social Impact, in partnership with the Bankwest Foundation. The report: Outcomes Measurement in the Australian Community Sector.
So much of our own experience in working with charities and philanthropists is reiterated in these findings.
“Robust and rigorous outcomes measurement is essential to the community sector demonstrating its value to funders, clients, and members of society that are not directly affected by their services. Arguably more importantly, however, is the importance of outcomes measurement to designing and implementing programs that deliver positive outcomes for people in need and society generally.” (1)
In brief the report findings were:
– There’s been a slight decrease in the number of organisations measuring outcomes from 2018 to 2019 (regardless of charity size).
– Those who were actively measuring outcomes, largely did so across all activities, suggesting “outcomes measurement practice has quite high barriers to entry – that it is a steep learning curve that requires investment of time and financial resources. However, once this barrier has been overcome, practice is readily transferred across all activities.” (1)
– Evaluation tools which capture change over the longer term were not being used by many organisations who participated in the survey.
– Outcomes data was most frequently used by organisations to improve the performance of their programs in achieving outcomes, and for funder reporting.
– Barriers to outcomes measurement identified were lack of funding, lack of staff capacity, and lack of internal skills.
– A large proportion of charities were unclear on, or unaware of state government outcome measurement frameworks and policies.
– Findings suggested that organisations were not including a line item for evaluation costs in tenders, with the misperception that it would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
Read the ProBono news article on the report: https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2019/04/nfps-struggling-to-measure-their-impact/
Callis, Z., Seivwright, A., and Flatau, P., (2019) Outcomes Measurement in the Australian Community Sector: A National Report Card, Bankwest Foundation Social Impact Series, No. 10, Bankwest Foundation, Western Australia. https://apo.org.au/node/229686