Earlier this month we outlined a side-by-side comparison of outcome measurement and program evaluation. In the next two blog articles, we unpack the outcome measurement process specifically.

Outcome measurement: Steps One Through Five

1. Assess your organization’s readiness.

Outcome measurement is the determination and evaluation of a program’s results, and their comparison with the intended or projected results. This definition requires a starting point.

2. Select the program and create a plan.

After understanding the state of your organization, decide which program you will measure. Choose a program that is undergoing a certain change or requires transformation. Outline a specific plan for outcome measurement, including a timeline with milestones by which it will be completed.

3. Describe the program’s mission and activities using a logic model.

Visually depict the program you choose with a logic model, such as this:

A basic logic model chart that displays how activities lead to outputs and outputs lead to outcomes.

Copyright Isaac Castillo, 2014.

Complete the logic model with your outcome measurement team during a series of working sessions.

4. Identify the program’s intended results, or outcomes.

Program outcomes comprise the second half of the logic model. These goals are the “meat” of outcome measurement, and the focus of subsequent steps of the process.

5. Identify indicators of success for each outcome.

Bring your program’s outcomes to life by assigning each goal a metric, which ensures completion can be successfully measured.

Outcome measurement: The Story of Sue Ito

To illustrate this first half of the outcome measurement process, we are introducing Sue Ito, Director of Planning and Performance at the Jefferson County Library (JCL). Sue has been tasked by the County Board of Directors to report a set of agency outcomes on an annual basis.

To begin, Sue uses a “Start With the End in Mind” planning product, which shows that JCL’s Young Adult Education Program (YAEP) is ripe with opportunity, and much of the organization is eager to support its growth. Sue decides to conduct outcome measurement for YAEP and forms a cross-department team to assist her.

The team meets weekly and for the first month focuses its working sessions on creating a logic model to better visualize and understand the current program. Below is a snapshot of the YAEP inputs, outputs, and outcomes.


What we invest


What we produce

Short-term Outcomes

Short-term impact

Mid-term Outcomes

Mid-term impact

Long-term Outcomes

Long-term impact

Volunteer staff


Paid staff




Career development materials


Library space

Career education and resources for disadvantaged youth


Technology training for program participants


Job skills training for program participants


Life skills coaching


Safe space for disadvantaged youth to meet weekly

New learning, such as:


IT knowledge gained


Job skills learned


Positive attitudes toward higher education developed

New actions, such as:


Participants apply to post-high school colleges or apprenticeship programs


YAEP participation grows


JCL receives increased community funding



New conditions, such as:


Rate of college-educated youth in community increases


Young adult crime rate decreases


Community reputation is elevated


Sue reviews the logic model with her team and realizes the outcomes are strong, but vague. How will the new learnings, actions, and conditions be proven? The team creates specific metrics, or indicators of success for each, captured below.

Short-term Outcomes

Short-term impact


Mid-term Outcomes

Mid-term impact


Long-term Outcomes

Long-term impact


IT knowledge gained


60 percent of participants show evidence of increased IT knowledge on pre- and post- program survey Increase in college or apprenticeship program participation


80 percent of participants apply to higher education programs Rate of college-educated youth in community increases



Number of college-educated youth in community increases by 20 percent
Job skills learned


100 percent of participants report acquisition of new job skills Increase in YAEP participation


Program enrollment rate grows by 30 percent in the first year Young adult crime rate decreases



Young adult crime rate decreases

by 5 percent

Positive attitudes toward higher education developed 75 percent of participants cite intentions to pursue higher education opportunities Increase in community funding for JCL


JCL receives a $25,000 grant from the local government to support growing YAEP Community reputation elevated Average real estate prices in Jefferson County grow by $10,000 year-over-year

What are your thoughts about the above outcomes and indicators? Which are easy wins, and which require a great deal of work to achieve? Please share your feedback in the comment section below.

In our next blog article, we’ll wrap up the outcome measurement process with our story of Sue and YAEP. Stay tuned!