How to start measuring your program’s outcomes

It’s important for any nonprofit to measure their effectiveness at solving the problems they’re addressing, but it’s especially imperative for a nonprofit to do this if they’re looking to apply for grants. Most grant funders will ask for information on your organization’s past successes, as well as what they seek to accomplish with the funding awarded. To that end, every nonprofit should be measuring outcomes and tracking progress towards stated goals related to the problems at hand for the community you serve.


First, it’s important to decide what exactly you can reasonably measure and how. What are your short- and long-term outcomes, and how can you track and record this information?


From there, you’ll need to collect baseline data so you can later measure whether your programs are succeeding at moving the needle for the population served. This is a crucial step in the process of measuring outcomes.


You should also assign someone to track this information. Typically, one person within your organization should be responsible for monitoring outcomes and collecting data. It might be the program director or program manager, depending on how your nonprofit is structured. At times, it’s necessary to outsource this to a data collection agency; typically this occurs with large, complex projects with government funding.


It’s important to get this in place before you start applying for grants. If you’re not already tracking your program’s effectiveness and measuring outcomes, you’ll be at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for grant funding.

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