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They are volunteers, too!
Look here for information and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

~ August 2007 ~ Topic

Measuring Outcomes: A Brief "How To"

Last month we talked about the importance of measuring outcomes. 

sIf you aren't measuring outcomes, it's not too late to start. You'll be glad you did. For example, if you are in charge of a literacy program, think how proud your volunteers will be if they can say their hard work helped 200 people improve their reading skills. That's much better than reporting that the volunteers contributed 2,000 hours. Today's volunteers want to know what they really achieved.

An organization needs to think of itself as an agent of change and clarify what it is it wants to change. For example, do they want people to have better health care, read better, deal with conflict better, do a better job of preserving the environment, etc.?

Then, the organization needs to decide what they think would indicate they are on the road to success. For example, 50% improvement in the number of people receiving health screening or 70% of students able to improve their reading ability. Set a goal that is feasible and motivating.

Be sure you are thinking in terms of outcomes (ends and results) not process (means and effort). For example, process is how many volunteers and attendees you have for a program; outcomes are how many students improved their reading ability because of the program.

Then decide how and when you are going to measure the outcomes.

  • HOW could be pre- and post-tests, interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, control groups, observations, etc.
  • WHEN depends on your goal and what data you already have on hand. For example, a literacy program would require pre-testing and post-testing to ascertain if students improved. Without the pre-test, you wouldn't know if the program had made a difference.stock chart image

We're all in business to make a difference. We need to let everyone know how we are doing as well as make appropriate improvements in our programs as needed.

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Other good sources for information on nonprofits, boards and committees:

Jeanne Bradner can be reached at Jeannebrad@aol.com.

See our online bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today.
Leading Volunteers Book Image

Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today and Passionate Volunteerism. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

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