Making Measures Work for You Outcomes and Evaluation

An outcomes-based approach to evaluation works, proponents say, because it uses straightforward metrics to assess actual impact. How else to know if the work you're supporting is leading to the desired changes? Other grantmakers counter that outcomes measurement should be approached with care. Hasty assumptions or over-confidence in the idea that program impacts can be translated into hard data can skew not only the evaluation but the work itself. This guide looks at tensions that drive the debate about outcomes measurement, as well as common questions about its potential risks and rewards. 

Highlights

  • What are "outcomes"?
  • Measuring intangibles
  • Seven tensions in the debate over measuring outcomes 

This guide is part of a series on evaluation techniques, check out related content below for additional resources in this series. 

An outcomes-based approach to evaluation works, proponents say, because it uses straightforward metrics to assess actual impact. How else to know if the work you're supporting is leading to the desired changes? Other grantmakers counter that outcomes measurement should be approached with care. Hasty assumptions or over-confidence in the idea that program impacts can be translated into hard data can skew not only the evaluation but the work itself. This guide looks at tensions that drive the debate about outcomes measurement, as well as common questions about its potential risks and rewards. 

Highlights

  • What are "outcomes"?
  • Measuring intangibles
  • Seven tensions in the debate over measuring outcomes 

This guide is part of a series on evaluation techniques, check out related content below for additional resources in this series.