Do you efficiently measure social outcomes?

Feb 19
Author:Ash Natesh
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“Organisations have the inability to be vulnerable, they often use measurement to only ever share good news stories” Bessi Graham, Co-Founder, Benefit Capital (Keynote at the Measuring Social Outcomes Conference 2018)

Measurement, as Bessi mentioned, should be about what we actually deliver to the cause/people that the organisation is fighting for. Measurement needs to be more self-reflective or with a view to improvement, identifying where you can be doing better.

For-purpose organisations are driven by their mission and want to know that the work they are doing is making a difference and creating positive social change. Critical to the ability for organisations to do this is effective outcomes measurement. Key takeaways from 3 speakers at the Measuring Social Outcomes Conference that ran in 2018:

Bessie Graham, Benefit Capital

“In terms of measurement being something that is more than just something that is left on the sidelines we are really keen to see measurement really embodied or really embedded in the whole of the business” – Bessi Graham Co-Founder, Benefit Capital

Measurement needs to be more about looking at ways in which you can be better informed in your decision making, designer programs and interventions in ways that increase the chance of delivering a positive social environment to clients.The best way to do that is to actually track and know how you are going and to see if you are achieving things based on the resources and money that you have.

Paul O’Riley, Inclusion & Early Intervention Commissioning Division

“Commissioning frameworks and striving to achieve better social outcomes with the work that we do with our partners. It has been a journey for us to create great collaboration with non-governmental organisations that work with us.” – Paul O’Reilly Executive Director, Inclusion & Early Intervention Commissioning Division

Getting ready for the social impact investing reform: Social impact investing (SII) is the investment of private capital to achieve both a financial return and a social return, usually in the form of improved social outcomes for vulnerable individuals and communities. SII is defined more by the intent of the investment and its measurability than the type of product itself; that is, SII covers debt finance to non-profit housing providers, equity investment in social enterprises and social impact bonds (SIBs) to fund service providers to address a targeted high cost social issue.

Paul O’Reilly shared his insights on how NSW Family & Community Services will measure outcomes. He highlighted three key points:

Review the evidence:

  • Evidence of need – who is the authority on ‘need’?
  • Evidence of what works

Program logic

  • A conversation: how efforts contribute to outcomes
  • Understand the outcomes pathways
  • Map activities against outcomes domains

Grapple with the barriers

  • Contribution v attribution
  • Data collection
  • Resistance

Anne Hampshire, The Smith Family

The learning for life program evaluation approach was presented by Anne Hampshire, Head of Research and Advocacy at The Smith Family. Here are some of the highlights from her session: A ‘theory of change’ – Emphasises what we want to achieve rather than what we want to do

An Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) framework, for each program, focusing on 3 key questions:
– How much did we do?
– How well did we do it?
– Is anyone better off?

It is important to have a small number of long-term outcomes and Key Performance Indicators and the means of collecting and analysing this data for Learning for Life scholarship students.

This year, Criterion will be presenting your guide to effective outcomes measurement and evaluation from theory to practice at the How to Measure and Evaluate Social Outcomes Masterclass Series. Get case consultation with a leading expert in social outcomes measurement from Jen Riley, Principal Consultant at Clear Horizon.

As a Principal Consultant of Clear Horizon, Jen has highly developed program design, monitoring and evaluation skills, including qualitative and quantitative research methods, and is experienced in developing data management systems and data dashboard solutions for social change.

Jen is experienced in co-design, delivery and evaluation of collaborations working with complex and wicked social problems including poverty, homelessness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and development, school to work transitions and school readiness in vulnerable communities.

This in-depth masterclass will explore:

  1. Current trends & future directions for digital data collection
  2. Developing a modern outcomes toolkit
  3. Transitioning to digital outcomes – opportunities & challenges
  4. AND Case studies from her experience.


The masterclass will be held across 4 states:

8 & 9 April 2019 Sydney:          

11 & 12 April 2019 Perth:         

29 & 30 April 2019 Brisbane:  

2 & 3 May 2019 Melbourne:    



Submitted by Ash Natesh

Ash Natesh

Ash is the Content Marketer at Criterion Conferences. Writing and sourcing content is all part of her day to day routine. She can’t stop drinking coffee, other than coffee her interests lie in Music, long walks amidst the mountains, Dance, Anime, Science Fiction and all things nerdy!

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