What will you look back on and be proud of in five years?

Measures, outputs and inputs, outcomes and indicators…The world of measurement and evaluation can seem a dry and dull place. But when you strip it back to its essence, it’s actually about helping you to see if you are making the difference that makes you proud.

In a recent project we worked with a social services agency in Western Victoria that delivers around 40 different programs to its most vulnerable community members. The programs support people to find employment, build family relationships, access housing and a range of other services.

Embarking on a strategy to measure and evaluate the impact of such a diverse agency proved quite a conundrum. And then it struck us, the agency wanted to know if they were achieving two main things:

  • Are we connecting people to each other?
  • Are we building on our clients’ strengths and capabilities?

The agency wanted to know that each and every one of its programs – whatever their particular focus – was delivered in such a way that it made these two things happen.

The agency has now committed to asking their clients on a regular basis:

  • “Can you get help from your friends, family and neighbours when you need it?”
  • “Have you made progress towards your goals?”

This will help the agency to check that they are working in a way that aligns with their vision and mission. In five years, this agency will look back and be proud to show that they have helped to build a supportive community that is realising its potential.