Outcomes are the changes and effects that happen as a result of your project, campaign or activity. To measure your impact, you need to find out the outcomes and show them to others. In other words, you need to know and show what you do.
Measuring your impact will help demonstrate the changes you’ve made. You can measure where you started and where you’ve arrived.
Where will you get the information from? Well, you can gather evidence from:
There are lots of different research techniques you can use to collect information.
Individual interviews can give a detailed understanding of someone’s experience of an issue or activity. An interview can be formal, with set questions, or more like a casual discussion. It’s important to cover the same areas of conversation if you interview a number of people. This makes it easier to compare information from different interviews to find common ideas or themes.
An efficient research method is to get a group of people together to talk about the issue, share their experiences or discuss set questions. A structured group discussion is called a ‘focus group’. It’s best to have someone leading the discussion and taking notes.
Surveys can be an easy way to collect information from lots of different people without too much effort. You can use an online system like Survey Monkey to design and distribute a survey (there are other survey websites out there too!).
Case studies are real stories about someone’s experiences, or a description of something that happened. Case studies are used to share the stories with an audience, to help demonstrate the real effects the issue or outcomes have had.
Doing a literature review involves simply looking into what other people have written about the topic you are researching and writing a summary of what they are saying. It’s a great way to learn more about the topic and also understand what sort of research has already been done, and where your research can contribute to – or challenge – that knowledge.
Action research is a term for research that you do as your campaign or activity is happening, instead of just before or after the action. When you do action research you are learning as you go, constantly asking how the activity is going, and basing your decisions on what action to take and what you have learned so far.
Some other ways that you can track and measure changes are:
Once the information has been collected, you need to sort it out in a way that allows you to understand it and draw conclusions. For example, if people were interviewed, sort out the common issues raised in each of their answers, and what the differences were. It’s also valuable to think about issues that might impact on the way people have answered the questions, and any things that might make it hard to interpret the data.
Do you want to tell someone else about the impact you’ve made, or what you’ve learned from the process? Do you need to…