Analyzing Outcome Information: Getting the Most From Data
Raw data that nonprofit organizations obtain from their outcome monitoring procedures, no matter how good, need to be processed and analyzed before the information can be useful to managers and staff. This guide, the fifth in the Urban Institute's series on outcome management for nonprofit organizations, describes steps that nonprofit organizations can take in performing this analysis.
This guide is unique in offering suggestions to nonprofits for analyzing regularly collected outcome data. The guide focuses on those basic analysis activities that nearly all programs, whether large or small, can do themselves. It offers straightforward, common-sense suggestions.
Probably the major concern, for at least some small organizations, is the computer capacity needed to tabulate the numbers that would otherwise be done manually. Fortunately, most groups today have some basic computer capability, and easy-to-use software is readily available to make the calculations. Any problems with programming can likely readily be solved through outside technical assistance, which is easy to secure in any community.
This guide does not deal with the more complex analysis procedures that involve sophisticated statistical or mathematical knowledge. Those procedures are likely to be most feasible only when resources are available for in-depth studies.
The steps described here should be of major help in interpreting the collected outcome data and in making the data useful for decisionmaking—the ultimate purpose of any outcome measurement process. (Gordon W. Green, Urban Institute)
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