Another way that Chidi could look at her youth work is through Outputs, Outcomes, and Indicators. Chidi also has project outcomes. These are the changes that she promised that she could deliver for young women and her community. We have already explored this a little when we looked at the money that Oscar’s family gave her to address malnutrition. 

When we think of outcomes, it’s important that we focus on small, specific changes that we can measure. Chidi’s big dream may be that the daughters of the girls in her youth club will not be pressured to give up school in order to help their mothers financially. But funders will not wait 20 years to discover whether this is true!

She could measure small changes by looking at her specific aims in the triangle. These defined the changes she was trying to create:

  • Increase girls’ access to nutritious food. 
  • Reduce the time girls spend doing family chores.
  • Increase girls’ ability to generate income for their families outside of school hours.
  • Improve career guidance for young people.

Can we turn these into more specific changes that we can easily measure, which would be useful to our stakeholders and us?

From Aims to Outcomes

It’s really hard to measure an increase in girls’ access to nutritious food. But we could measure: 

  • Whether girls can identify nutritious foods. 
  • Whether they know how to prepare these foods.
  • Whether they eat them regularly at home.
  • Whether they can plan a nutritious menu for their family within their budget.

If we ask them to do these four exercises (or surveys) when they first join the youth club, and again after a year, you can specifically measure these changes. You would be able to say that at the beginning, 20% could correctly identify the more nutritious foods, and at the end of the year, 80% could. At the beginning of the year, none of the girls knew about anaemia, and rarely ate leafy green vegetables, but at the end of the year, 50% regularly included green vegetables when cooking rice.

From Outcomes to Measurement

Every outcome should be measurable. There is no point in promising your supporters and funders that you will make a change for your community that you cannot demonstrate. There are resources online that you can use to understand this in more detail, for example from the NCVO [How to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework — NCVO Knowhow] and there is a training available if you look out for it!

Keep it simple, communicate effectively

The more money you receive from a funder, the more complex the reporting will likely be. But remember that your youth workers team is likely to be heavily involved in recording both outcomes and outputs. They will be keeping registers, and doing enrolment forms with girls. They will be administering tests and surveys. There is no point in committing to measuring things that your team doesn’t know how to measure, or could not easily learn. It’s important to involve them when designing a youth project that needs to be measured. Many projects have become nightmares because staff or volunteers didn’t understand why they had to do extra work in collecting data, or that consistency was important. Make sure that they know that data collection also benefits them, not just the funder, and that they can ask you to explain if they don’t understand anything.

Reflection Questions

  1. What are your youth club’s outcomes? Think about how you can measure each one.
  2. Does your team understand why collecting data is important for your youth project? How have you tried to explain it to them? What are the challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?

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