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Outcomes Measurement Hits Barriers in WA

1 October 2015 at 12:00 pm
Ellie Cooper
Measuring the difference that Not for Profits make to the lives of disadvantaged people in Western Australia is at a tipping point in the state despite a number of barriers, according to a new study.

Ellie Cooper | 1 October 2015 at 12:00 pm


Outcomes Measurement Hits Barriers in WA
1 October 2015 at 12:00 pm

Measuring the difference that Not for Profits make to the lives of disadvantaged people in Western Australia is at a tipping point in the state despite a number of barriers, according to a new study.

The study, the third in the Bankwest Foundation Social Impact Series, explores the experiences of community organisations and their funders in their shift to a greater focus on outcomes and developing the evidence-base to drive social change.

“(The) mapping of outcomes measurement in Western Australia and consultations with community sector stakeholders in Western Australia suggest not simply a growing interest in outcomes measurement and a broad appetite for progress and change, but that community sector organisations, big and small, as well as funders, are implementing or seeking to implement a systematic, well-grounded outcomes measurement framework in their organisations and through their funding programs,” the report said.

“Community organisations and the funders of programs are also moving towards more strategic use of the outputs of outcomes measurement and connecting measurement with strategy and performance improvement.”

But the report found that it has not been all plain sailing for those measuring outcomes.

“Our consultations also point to the fact that community sector organisations and funders are struggling with outcomes measurement, and facing critical barriers at the organisational and systems levels that are impeding progress,” the report said.

The research found that the key areas that Not for Profits struggle with in their outcomes measurement include articulating those outcomes, estimating the cost benefits and using existing data.

The report also found that some of the critical barriers to outcomes measurement at an organisational level included internal capacity, fragmented funding, the engagement of staff, data access and the use of inconsistent language.

The report titled Measuring the difference we make: The state-of-play of outcomes measurement in the community sector of WA is part of a five-year research program in a partnership between the Bankwest Foundation and UWA Centre for Social Impact (UWA CSI).

Director of CSI at The University of Western Australia, Professor Paul Flatau, said that this report confirms what the Centre for Social Impact has been saying for years regarding outcomes measurement.

“Outcomes measurement is critical to not only achieving social impact, but ensuring the long term survival of our community organisations and it’s particularly heartening to see such broad scale adoption of this thinking in WA,” Professor Flatau said.

At the report launch, Executive Director of Community and Human Services in the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tom Leeming, spoke of the State Government’s Delivering Community Services in Partnership Policy.

“The State Government is shifting its focus on contracting from micro-managing inputs and outputs to contracting on the basis of outcomes jointly defined by the community and public sectors – but implementation of this change is a work in progress and much has been learned along the way,” Leeming said.

The first major Australian survey on outcomes measurement in the community sector will be conducted as part of the current research program later this year.

The Bankwest Foundation was established in 2013 with a mission to improve the wellbeing of Australians by enabling the implementation of significant and meaningful community initiatives in Western Australia and nationally.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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