Four Factors to Consider When Evaluating Outcomes

Understanding social change from outcomes to impact.

SOURCE: SiMPACT Strategy Group


By Stephanie Robertson & Anne Miller
SiMPACT Strategy Group
November 05, 2012

In recent years there has been a shift in the field of program evaluation from activities-based to outcomes-based evaluation practice. While an activities-based evaluation focuses on measuring the outputs of a program (i.e. the number of participants, sessions or trees planted etc.), an outcomes-based evaluation focuses on measuring the change that occurred as a result.

For example, while an activities-based evaluation of a health promotion program might look at metrics such as the number of participants, the number of sessions, and the promotional materials distributed, an outcomes based evaluation would examine how much people learned and how their learning improved their ability to manage their health.

Social return on investment: The methodology

The move toward outcomes-based evaluation has moved the focus from how activities intend to achieve change to how much change actually occurs. The next step in this journey is to examine whether the change that actually occurs is happening entirely due to the activities, i.e. were there any other contributing factors involved in the creation of change? Considering outcomes in relation to other contributing factors is known as assessing impact in terms of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology.

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KEYWORDS: People, Social Action & Community Engagement, program evaluation, sroi, Social Impact, outcome-based evaluation, Social Return on Investment, impact measurement, SROI Network

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