The Planning Triangleplanning triangle shows a single main aim at the top, then several specific aims, followed by multiple objectives below.

Here's our take on the assessment methodology jargon...

Your organisation or project should have one overall aim or mission with several specific aims that explain why you are running a project or service.  Each of these aims should have one or more outcomes, ie: the change you want to achieve, with longer term outcomes called impact.  The objectives define what activities you will do, with several outputs.

You first need to record your outputs, ie: that you've done the tasks you set out to do.  However providing evidence of outcomes and impact is harder as it is often less tangible changes of attitude that you are looking for.  You need to find indicators to measure outcomes directly or assess them through use of survey techniques.  Demonstrating change usually requires measuring baseline indicators at the start of your intervention and repeated at least once after that.  Be aware that your work may have only partly influenced or contributed to the change. Preventing something from happening is a valid outcome that requires careful evidence to show. Aim for objective indicators;  take account of possible untruthful answers for subjective questions.

Meanwhile, you will have to find a methodology that is usable by those involved and is cost-effective - keep it simple!  Finding suitable indicators requires careful thought, though various standard assessment methodologies are available.   Make sure you pilot your questionnaires.  Ensuring participation in surveys may require incentives. 

Do an evaluation of your impact to identify what has and hasn't worked - make sure you really believe this, and don't exaggerate.  Give feedback to those involved as well as reporting to your donors, supporters and the public if appropriate.  Use your successful outcomes to show you deserve the next grant, project or contract.

Having set up a suitable methodology, remember to look out for unexpected outcomes and unsolicited comments which may in fact give a true picture of what's going on.

Don't just list what you've done, show the changes you've made.

Made an Impact is an online tool that you can use to record and show your outcomes and impact evidence - both for individuals and projects/whole organisations.

Thinking about, measuring and reporting on impact needs to become part of the natural way civil society organisations do things.

They will then be better placed to increase the difference they make for their beneficiaries.

NCVO, Funding Commission – Funding the Future Report 2011

Online Resources

Specific methodologies: