Measuring Outcomes

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Outcomes are the things that change as a result of an activity. To understand outcomes an organisation needs to clearly understand how beneficiaries are affected by its activities. E.g.

Support activity > outcome = increased wellbeing

Recycling activity > outcome = reduced waste

To demonstrate Social Value organisations need to demonstrate a broad range of outcomes;

  • Social Outcomes;
  • Economic Outcomes;
  • Environmental Outcomes.

Indicators are what you use to measure whether you have achieved your outcome. E.g.,

Increased wellbeing > indicator = number of beneficiaries reporting improved health

Reduced waste > indicator = tonnes of waste to landfill

The theory is that if you know the difference you are making there will be a tool to measure that difference.

You can’t measure the difference you make if you’re not clear about what difference you intended to make.

This page provides access to some of the best tools around for choosing and measuring outcomes.

Choosing Outcomes

Big Lottery has a good, simple explanation to help you write your own clear aims and outcomes.

Big Lottery | Aims and Outcomes

Big Society Capital provide help If you are just starting with outcomes. The Outcome Matrix can help you work out what to measure and how to measure it. It provides you with a free downloadable spreadsheet which you can tailor to your own service’s needs. It includes outcomes and measures for nine outcome areas and 15 beneficiary groups.

Big Society Capital | Outcome Matrix

Inspiring Impact is a UK-wide collaborative programme, working with the charity sector to help organisations know what to measure and how to measure. Their website is a great source of advice and information on all types of outcomes and is supported by UK government.

Inspiring Impact | Home Page

ONS is a great source of national comparative and benchmark data, and evidence of change (impact) in health, education, participation in society, debt – and a whole range of other outcomes.

Office for National Statistics | Homepage

Measuring Social Outcomes

The Outcomes Star was developed by Triangle Consulting. Outcome Stars are an assessment tool that enable organisations to map users progress. There are over 20 versions of Outcomes Star, available and in development, covering a variety of different service area including;

ADHD, Carers, Community, Drug and Alcohol, Women experiencing Domestic Violence, Families, Homelessness, Independent Living, Learning Difficulties, Mental Health, Adults in Secure settings, Children and Young People, Children’s Music Therapy, Older People, Teenagers with Complex Needs, Young People’s Sexual Health, Children in Schools, Autism and Aspergers, Students with Additional Needs, Visual Impairment, Long-Term Health Conditions, Getting into Employment, Young People, Young People moving into Independent Living.

Outcomes Star | Homepage

WEMWBS (Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale) is a validated research tool designed to measure mental wellbeing in adults and children.   It covers positive mental health from different perspectives, including happiness, optimism, cheerfulness, relaxation, energy, clear thinking, self-acceptance, personal development, mastery and autonomy and satisfying interpersonal relationships. It is free to use but registration and permission are required.

Health Scotland | WEMWMBS

The Young Foundation have produced a very comprehensive framework of suitable outcomes and measurement tools for working with young people.

Young Foundation | Framework of Outcomes for Young People

Inspiring Impact and NPC have published the JET Framework which provides outcomes and tools to measure what happens on Young People’s journey to employment. There is an eight-step guide designed to help organisations implement the JET framework—identifying what to measure, deciding how and when to measure, and using the resulting data to learn and improve.

NPC | The Journey to Employment (JET) Framework

Charities Evaluation Service provides another useful source of information on what to measure, how to measure it and choosing indicators.

Proving and Improving |Measuring Impact

You can also design your own questionnaire or survey based on good practice principles. Links below will show you how to avoid bias in your questions and introduce you to using simple scale measures like 1 to 10 (Likert Scale).

Tips for Writing Effective Questions

Likert Scales

Measuring Economic Outcomes

ONS produce an annual updated figure of average hourly earnings which can be used to put a cost on the value of volunteering. The cost replacement method is ‘number hours volunteering x average hourly earnings’. The result is a total value, for example ‘200hrs x £11.00 = £2,200’ of volunteer time.

ONS | Average Earnings

Institute of Volunteering Research recognises that volunteering isn’t free. It provides a useful self-audit measurement tool that assesses the ‘outputs’ of volunteer programmes (the value of volunteers’ time) in relation to the ‘inputs’ (the resources used to support the volunteers). It also discusses how to account for employment overheads. The result is a ratio, for example for every £1 invested £2 is returned in social value.

Institute of Volunteering Research | VIVA - Volunteering Investment Value Audit

Global Value Exchange. Enter keywords (like "health" or "homeless") to search 1000s of outcomes, indicators and get cost valuations drawn from a wide range of sources, you can also add your own values. Frequently used to provide costs for SROI analyses. Includes values from Big Society Outcome Matrix, Sustainable Development Goals, IRIS Indicators, HACT Value Bank, New Economy Unit Costs, TEEB Eco-System Services, and more. The result can be used as a comparative cost, or in the form of a Cost Benefit Analysis or Social Return on Investment (SROI) and is presented as a ratio, for example for every £1 invested £2 is returned in social value.

Global Value Exchange

Greater Manchester New Economy produce a Unit Cost Database that may be helpful to benchmark or evaluate services and can also be used to build a Cost Benefit Analysis of projects and services. The costs are specific costs based on known costs of providing core services agreed for Greater Manchester, including health, social care, police etc. The result can be used as a comparative cost, or in the form of a Cost Benefit Analysis or Social Return on Investment (SROI) and is presented as a ratio, for example for every £1 invested £2 is returned in social value.

New Economy | Unit Cost database

HACT have produced a guide and online value calculator for housing providers and the approach includes a wide range of community-focused investment that can be used to monitor the difference that any community based services make, as well as investment into bricks and mortar. The costs are based on the wellbeing valuation method (the impact of the goods or service on people's self-reported wellbeing, using these estimates to calculate the amount of money that would produce the equivalent impact on wellbeing). The result is a ratio, for example for every £1 invested £2 is returned in social value.

HACT | Measuring the Social Impact of Community Investment: A Guide

LM3 – Local Multiplier 3 –is a tool for assessing how the money you spend works in the local economy and how to improve your impact. It determines how money coming into your community is spent and then re-spent. Developed by NEF their free downloadable publication is on their Website. The result is a ratio, for example for every £1 invested £2 is returned in economic value.

new economics foundation | The Money Trail

Measuring Environmental Outcomes

WRAP have produced this guide to help small and medium-sized offices save money, improve environmental performance and respond to environmental enquiries from suppliers and customers. It provides practical solutions to measure paper, waste, energy, water, transport that cost nothing or little to implement and will enable office workers to identify their impact on the environment. Once you understand your impact you can start to set targets to reduce negative impact and record this as social value.

WRAP | Green Office Guide

Measure your Carbon Emissions - DEFRA produce a very simple guide to monitoring car and van engine, plus other travel and utilities emissions. Once you understand your impact you can start to set targets to reduce negative impact and record this as social value.

DEFRA | Small Business User Guide: Guidance on how to measure and report your greenhouse gas emissions

Eco-mapping is a creative tool that helps small companies to implement environmental management, ISO 14001 and EMAS. An example of a free eco mapping tool is available on the Eco-mapping website. Once you understand your impact you can start to set targets to reduce negative impact and record this as social value.

Eco Mapping | Homepage

How to Write an Environmental Policy - London Borough of Richmond’s Go Green Richmond group have produced an easy to read two page guide and template. This is a good place to start to set targets to reduce negative impact.

LB Richmond | How to write an Environmental Policy

How to write a Sustainable Procurement Policy – Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges have collated together good practice examples of Sustainable Procurement Policies. This is a good place to start to set targets to reduce negative impact.

EAUC | Sustainable Procurement Policies

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