This study aims to describe outcome measurement and to explore to whom outcomes matter, how outcomes are measured, and the costs and benefits of undertaking outcome measurement at the level of a community development organization (CDO). Several funders in community development began requiring outcome reporting in 2005. Outcome measurement is a way to produce important evidence about long-term outcomes in a manner that may be useful both for funders and CDOs. Its process includes articulating an organization's longterm goals, identifying indicators to evaluate progress toward those goals, implementing a system to track the indicators, analyzing the findings, and reporting results to stakeholders. Outcome measurement is distinguished from performance measurement, which focuses on immediate outputs or short-term outcomes. Also, outcome measurement does not aim to meet the standards of academic research.
This study found consensus among funders and CDOs that the benefits of outcome measurement are well worth its costs. Implementing outcome measurement provides the most value to CDOs if the process allows sufficient flexibility and if CDOs are committed to the effort required. Primary benefits for CDOs consist of enhanced strategic planning and management, better positioning with respect to competition for funding, and better communication and community relations. The study recommends that funders and intermediaries increase transparency about their objectives to CDOs in order to mitigate confusion and mistrust. Funders are also cautioned against valuing outcome information ahead of other considerations. The study further recommends collaboration among outcome measurement experts and funders to create consensus around terminology and reporting requirements.