Yonathan Almog, Mayers-JDC-Brookdale Institute
Does your organization measure the outcomes of its initiatives? Does it evaluate alone or in a joint effort with other organizations?
While more and more organizations answer “yes” to the first question, only a few can nod in agreement to the second one.
Today, the process of measuring outcomes is usually performed in any organization in isolation from others – each organization sets for itself the objectives and then measures the extent to which they are achieved. But we recognize an important development in the social sphere: increasing attempts of groups of organizations to engage in joint measurement and in the development of common metrics.
In fact, one of the five pillars of Collective Impact (CI) initiatives is implementing a process of joint measurement. This is since collaboration around measurement issues is becoming increasingly relevant with the growing efforts taking place to promote cross-sector collaboration in the social sphere.
What is shared measurement? And what are the common measures?
Shared measurement is conducted in cooperation between several organizations involved in a specified field who work to achieve similar or common goals. Shared measurement allows these organizations to look together at the bigger picture, beyond their isolated actions and influence, and to strengthen aspects of mutual learning.
When the shared measurement is performed by organizations collaborating on aspects beyond measurement, the shared measurement can be a key means of creating a common language, of strengthening and preserving collaboration, and of effective direction towards coordinated action.
Common measures are a supportive infrastructure for measurement that include a menu of defined outcomes, outcome measures, and measurement tools in a given social field. This menu can be accessible to users via a report, a computer program, or client interface.
The decision of the various organizations that are working for similar goals to adopt common measures allows them to set their outcomes in a similar manner and to measure the extent to which these outcomes are achieved by using the definitions and measurement tools consistently. The use of common measures can be utilized between collaborating organizations as well as between organizations that do not work together.
One example in the development of common measures is the “Measuring Together” initiative which was launched in 2011 by the New Philanthropy Capital organization. As part of this initiative, the organization works with not-for-profit associations, organizations, and funding foundations to develop common indicators in the areas of their operations. For example, one area of their activity is helping young people who are “disconnected.” In order to define common measures, they conducted a comprehensive review of existing knowledge in the literature and conducted extensive consultations. In this context, they first defined the expected outcomes from this activity (raising self-esteem, reducing the use of dangerous materials, etc.) and then measurements and measuring tools were defined for each outcome.
In Israel and around the world there is a growing interest in common measures and shared measurement. However, to date, there is limited experience in Israel in the development and implementation of these practices.
A new review by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (MJB), with the support of the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation, deals with developing understanding and knowledge on this subject. In addition, MJB will soon complete a practical guide to support shared measurement applications, which will complement tools discussed in the review. The hope is that both MJB publications will further efforts to develop common measures and shared measurement in the social sector in Israel.
For the Hebrew version of the blog, click here.
Almog, J. Habib, c. 2013. Shared Measurement of Social Outcomes :A Literature Review, Conceptualization and Conceptual Development. RR-13-646, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, Jerusalem.
Almog, Y.; Habib, J. 2013.”The Role of Shared Measurement in Collaborations and its Effective Implementation – what have we Learned thus Far?” Lecture presented at the conference Collaboration among Government, Market, and Society: Forging Partnerships and Encouraging Competition, Shanghai, China.
Almog, Y.; Rosen, B.; Habib, J. 2014.”Accountability and Shared Measurement in Health Care: Examples from Israel“. Lecture presented at the conference Public Accountability under Market Pressures: Reshaping its Forms and Values, Oxford Institute of Social Policy in association with the European Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College.