Developing and Implementing Common Metrics for Evaluation
Nonprofit organizations have long struggled with how to gather meaningful data about their organizations, programs, and the clients they serve. These organizations have also struggled with how to develop common indicators that can be used to show their contribution to community-wide impact, alongside others engaged in similar types of programs. Without common indicators, it is also difficult for funders to understand which programs create outcomes and why.
Whether for funders or service providers, this lack of comparable data makes it impossible to make evidence-based decisions about programs and budgets. This session will discuss the process of developing and implementing common indicators through the lens of two projects widely in use by the public library community: Impact Survey and the Edge Assessment. Together, these two systems are a model for how nonprofit organizations, particularly those without resources or expertise to design evaluation activities from scratch, can use common indicators, along with online tools, to improve decision making and provide evidence of effects to external audiences.
From working with diverse stakeholders, to testing and validating, to implementation through user-centered design of technology, we’ll discuss the promises and pitfalls of common indicators, with real data and evaluation results from several years of these indicators being in use.