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Making It Count:
Programs See Benefits of Outcome Measurement

A recent survey conducted on behalf of the United Way of America found that non-profit programs have realized benefits from their investment in outcome measurement, although developing and implementing outcome measurement systems is not without its challenges.

The survey asked program directors for their assessment of both positive and negative aspects of measuring program outcomes, as well as their experiences with using the findings to benefit their programs. Most of the agencies surveyed had been implementing outcome measurement systems for two to five years.

The majority of program directors could easily identify the benefits of engaging in outcome measurement. Respondents said that implementing program outcome measurement helped to communicate program results to stakeholders (88%), focus staff on working towards common goals and shared purposes (88%), identify effective practices within the program (84%), successfully compete for resources and funding (83%), and improve the service delivery of the program (76%). In addition, 75% of respondents felt they had sufficient access to training on outcome measurement, 59% said there was sufficient access to the special expertise needed to resolve specific outcome measurement problems, and 50% said there was adequate time to develop and test the outcome measurement system.

While program directors identified a number of benefits from engaging in outcome measurement, the process of implementing an outcome measurement system had an impact on staff and program activities. Respondents said that engaging in outcome measurement had overloaded their record-keeping capacity (55%), diverted resources from existing activities (46%), and led to a focus on measurable outcomes at the expense of other important results (46%). In addition, 68% said there was difficulty identifying manageable data collection methods, 66% said there was difficulty identifying relevant outcome indicators, 65% said there was difficulty identifying appropriate outcomes, and 62% said there was a concern about the cost of measuring outcomes.

Despite these difficulties, on the whole, program directors believed the benefits of outcome measurement outweighed the challenges; 74% of respondents agreed that "on balance, implementing outcome measurement has had a positive impact on this program's ability to serve clients effectively," and 89% would recommend to the director of a similar program that he or she consider implementing program outcome measurement.

Source:
Agency Experiences with Outcome Measurement: Survey Findings,
United Way of America, 2000.

For more information:
contact United Way of America Sales Service at (703) 212-6300 (Item #0196), or look on-line at www.unitedway.org/outcomes/.


A Special Issue of Facts in Action — Over the past year, Facts in Action published a series of articles designed to take you step-by-step through the process of measuring outcomes in your program or family child care home. This series of articles has been repackaged into a special issue of the Facts in Action newsletter and is now available for only $2.00 per copy.

If you would like to order this special issue of Facts in Action, please contact:

Erika Argersinger
Early Education Clearinghouse
Associated Early Care and Education, Inc.
95 Berkeley Street, Suite 306
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 695-0700 x271
eargersinger@associatedearlycareandeducation.org

Facts in Action, August 2002

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