The Reality of Measuring Human Service Programs: Results of a Survey

Nonprofits hoping to improve their programs’ services or reach must first understand their own effectiveness. Measurable numbers—how many meals served at a soup kitchen, how many students in a mentoring program graduate high school, what percentage of the target population does not have access to affordable housing—are critical data that can help organizations identify where they can improve their programs.

The public conversation about measuring programs is often theoretical, focusing on what organizations could or should do rather than on tactics for success. At Idealware, we were curious about the opposite—what specific tactics are organizations using to measure their programs? What are the barriers? To find out, in the summer of 2013 we created and distributed a survey to human service organizations on our own mailing list—generally small to mid-sized organizations—to learn how they were actually using technology to measure and evaluate the outcomes of their programs.
 
To augment survey results, we selected three organizations local to Idealware for site visits and interviews with them to understand their strategies for measuring programs.
 
Want to learn more? Download the free report below.