One of the most challenging aspects of developing the service plan will be establishing how to will measure success. Consider the following questions:
- What will success look like?
- How will you know when you have achieved it?
- How will you know the relationship between the intervention strategies and success?
- How will you monitor and evaluate progress toward success?
- What are the benchmarks or indicators on the way to achieving the goals?
Logic models can help guide the measurement process. They usually have at least five components:
- Resources (input)
- Activities (input)
- Outcomes (short-term outcomes)
- Impact (or end-goal)
If planned well, all of the components within a logic model should be aligned. This means that the input of resources and activities are designed to yield outputs, which will reasonably result in the desired short- and long-term outcomes.
Start with your impact or end-goal. These are the broad, overarching goals you identified as a first step of the action planning process as part of identifying success. These goals are aligned with your vision. This is really about seeing the priority need disappear.
- Once the impact or end-goal is determined, think about:
- What resources and activities (inputs) will help you get achieve the end-goal?
- What outputs and outcomes are desired?
- What outcomes will demonstrate success that is measurable? Metrics should ideally have a clear connection to the outcome and be easily measurable.
For information on developing a logic model around the priority needs, assets, and strategies, view the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Logic Model Development Guide. This guide provides an excellent sample logic model developed around planning a family trip. Breaking the model down into an example like this makes the concept much more accessible. The foundation’s Evaluation Handbook is also a useful tool in establishing measurements around priority needs.
Data collection is an important part of measuring success. Cities often have large-scale data collection systems to mine for data or use as resources, including research data collected that public agencies and school districts collect annually.
Data resources are also available from the U.S. Census Bureau. City-level statistics on economic and social indicators can be found at:
Because measuring success is such an important part of your service plan, it is a good idea to look at partnering with experts in the field of data collection. Colleges and universities typically have research departments that can be very helpful in collecting and analyzing data.
Additional resources that may be useful include:
- “Measuring What Matters in Nonprofits” and “Zeroing In on Impact,” two articles focused on analyzing programs to ensure they are directly contributing to reaching impacts and end goals.
- The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has a number of resources for measuring community initiatives at www.civicyouth.org.