You need to include outcomes measurement and reporting in your next funding application. Here is why:
With significant funding cuts to the social sector, community service providers are finding themselves competing for a shrinking pool of government and private grant funding.
One of the most common barriers to outcomes measurement is a lack of internal capacity such as limited human resources, funding, and know-how.
You’ve probably found that you are required, now more often than before, to provide evidence in funding applications and reports demonstrating how your program will create behavioural change in program beneficiaries.
In the United States, a standard rule-of-thumb is to set aside at least 10 per cent of a program’s budget for evaluation.
Here in Australia, funders are starting to demand Outcome Reports, but organisations are not requesting the funds required to do proper evaluations. Instead, organisations tend to pull together any “leftover program funds” to retrospectively evaluate their programs when the time has come to try and secure further funding. This is not only ineffective, but can also be highly stressful.
Forward planning around outcomes measurement is important in today’s competitive funding climate. You should be thinking about the cost of outcomes measurement at the same time as securing the funds for running a program (e.g., room hire, equipment, staff, etc).
A number of not-for-profit organisations have included a sensible outcomes measurement budget into their recent grant and funding applications. YMCA New South Wales included the cost of using Socialsuite’s Outcomes Evaluation technology platform and services into one of their grant applications for funding a youth mentoring program. Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia also incorporated into their grant application the cost of using Socialsuite to measure the outcomes of a pilot suite of mentoring programs.
Securing funds for outcomes measurement upfront will reduce subsequent pressure on you having to seek funds from various budgets (if any at all) to piece together an ad hoc evaluation when funders start demanding outcomes evidence. Having an outcomes measurement budget upfront will also catalyse ongoing monitoring and refinement of program delivery.
The Socialsuite Technology Platform has been developed to help organisations measure and report on the outcomes of their services. Using an easy-to-use iPad app, data collectors are able to collect data easily on an ongoing basis.