All Get IN Chicago programs share our vision of reducing youth violence.  When we evaluate new proposals, we look for a clear tie to this vision at each level of the project, from daily program activities to outcomes to overall mission for the program.  A cohesive plan for impact is key.

We also review each organization’s capacity to evaluate itself.  Is the organization ready to take on measurement and accountability?  Have they already made ties between their programs, outcomes, and overall impact?  And do they have the capacity to create an accountability plan and stay on track for the duration of the program?  In many cases, we provide technical assistance to organizations to improve their ability to accomplish these tasks.

At our recent Serving With Purpose Summit, Sasha Tuzel from Mission Measurement shared a few best practices for outcomes, impact, and accountability that can benefit all organizations.  All organizations can benefit from thinking about and incorporating these ideas.  Read on for Sasha’s tips about creating a framework for measurement.

identify outcomes - mmYour work can be broken down into three levels: programs and activities, outcomes, and impact.  Impact is the overall change you hope to see in the world. All Get IN Chicago programs aim to impact rates of youth violence, community crime rates, and overall safety for kids.

outcomes v activities

Programs and activities make up the day-to-day of your project: individual mentoring sessions, field trips, screening tests, service days, etc.  When you finish an activity, you create an output.  Outputs are your staff’s accomplishments.  Keeping track of outputs ensures that your project is staying on course and following its plan- but it is important to note that outputs are not outcomes.

Outcomes, on the other hand, link your activities to the big picture – they are the results you see via the individual participants in your program.   Moreover, outcomes tell the real story of your program.  For example, a therapy program may aim for an outcome of reducing trauma symptoms via screening tools in 90% of participants.  A mentoring program may aim for an outcome of 50% of youth participants improving their grades during one quarter.

When you select outcomes, keep them realistic, both in terms of your organization’s capabilities and capacity.  There are many ways to create safer communities for youth, but that doesn’t mean your program can or should do all of them.  Remember to create outcomes based on results that your organization can feasibly accomplish.

Example: If you are leading group therapy sessions at a school, you may hope that your students learn to manage their anger better.  Your activity would be the therapy session, and your outcome may be a reduced number of disciplinary infractions, an improved score on an aggression screening or test, or less fights.


This chart can help you visualize how your activities, outcomes, and impact all fit together.  Putting your framework on paper is how you will communicate your plan for impact to funders, your staff, and the greater public.  The Get IN Chicago work plan, a requirement for all our funded projects, follows a similar structure.

Note that this plan includes indicators, or how you plan to measure your outcomes.  When selecting your indicators, consider what information your organization can access.  If one of your outcomes is increasing reading scores and you plan to do that by looking at student report cards, how will you get your students’ report cards?  If you want to increase attendance and plan to use your school’s attendance records, will you have access to that data at the end of your project?

priority outcomes

It may also be helpful to differentiate types and timelines for your outcomes.  When will you be able to access the information you need for measurement?

At our summit, Mission Measurement recommended surveys as a short-term way to measure outcomes.  Keep in mind that self-reported data alone (ex: students reporting changes in attitudes or how they feel) may not be enough to verify your outcomes.  A good way to increase the validity of your surveys is to cross-reference them.  For example, instead of only asking a students if they feel like their leadership abilities improved, ask both students and teachers to report on whether a change took place.

IMG_2258Incorporating accountability measurement at your organization can yield enormous benefits.  Not only can it help you illustrate the success of your program, it can also help you troubleshoot and improve.  Within your organization, it can also show your staff how each of them play an important role toward achieving your mission. As funding becomes more competitive, the ability to show how your program makes a difference will set your organization apart.

Download the Full Presentation Here: Social Impact Measurement Highlights – GIC