This Outcomes System Toolkit provides information and guidance materials to help grantees develop or improve their use of outcomes. Outcome measures are essential components of an effective program management and improvement system. They can enhance grantees’ effectiveness in:
- Allocating resources and developing strategies;
- Evaluating success in achieving program’s mission and strategic goals;
- Improving organizational performance and staff engagement; and
- Fundraising and “telling their stories” in their communities. Many legal services programs use outcomes data to meet their own needs and/or to meet requirements of funders such as United Way, IOLTA programs or federal funders.
It should be emphasized that there is no single “right way” to collect and use outcomes data. Instead, programs should develop and implement outcome data systems that are tailored to meet their particular needs. Although developing an outcome system is a relatively straightforward task, ensuring that the system best serves the program’s needs is an ongoing process that requires the involvement of staff from throughout the program.
What you will find in the toolkit
The toolkit includes the following sections:
Basic information about using outcomes data
- What are outcomes (and outputs)?
- Why measure outcomes? Ways outcomes measures can improve client services and program operations
- Commonly used outcomes measures
- Outcomes data reports for evaluating, documenting and improving client service and program effectiveness and efficiency
- Systems for collecting and analyzing outcomes data
- Steps to develop an outcomes system that is appropriate for your program
- Cautions about using outcomes data
Examples of outcomes systems currently used by grantees
- The IOLTA Model used by Virginia’s legal aid programs
- Cleveland Legal Aid Society’s outcomes measures system
A catalog of common outcome measures
Links to helpful resources
- List of legal services grantees that use outcome measures
- Resources and information specifically focused on the use of outcomes data by legal services programs
- Resources from private foundations and nonprofit management organizations about outcomes data systems