Selecting Useful Indicators
The Life Changes Trust expects those we fund to develop appropriate indicators (an agreed piece of data that show what changes are being made).
Sometimes we will ask for specific information to be collected. This will usually be simple data about your activities oroutputs.In addition to this we will expect you to identify other indicators that will tell us how well you are meeting your outcomes.
Sometimes we will ask for specific information to be collected. This will usually be simple data about your activities or outputs. In addition to this we will expect you to identify other indicators that will tell us how well you are meeting your outcomes.
We will also ask you how you will collect information for these indicators.
Indicators are simple ways of knowing that your intended difference is (or is not) happening. They are tangible signs of change for individuals or communities. These should be clearly related to the outcome you want to achieve.
It is important to choose indicators that matter, are useful, and can be measured.
Make sure you choose things that are important to measure and will make the biggest difference for People Affected by Dementia or Care Experienced Young People, not just what is easiest to count. There is no better way to understand what will make a difference than involving beneficiaries in defining the outcomes they want to achieve (what success will look like) and the signs that things are changing (indicators).
Your indicators will be tangible statements of change that can be measured. They may include numbers (quantitativeindicators ) or be descriptive (qualitativeindicators ) – a mix of both types of indicators is good, as we know that numbers alone do not tell the whole story.
Indicators should be specific changes that you can observe and measure. They may beoutputindicators (an indication that an activity has taken place) oroutcomeindicators (an indication that the activity has had the desired result). The indicators will tell you what information you need to collect to show the differences are being made.
Outcome - Care experienced young people will become more confident
- Indicator 1 - The young person is able to take part in more activities. This could be measured by asking the young person themselves, getting reports from staff or generating statistics of attendance.
Outcome – Frontline staff are aware of the issues relating to dementia
- Indicator 1 – Number of workers trained in dementia awareness (output indicator).
- Indicator 2 – Proportion of trainees reporting improved awareness of dementia (outcome indicator)
Be realistic about the number of indicators you set and what kind of information you will be able to collect. Remember that you are likely already collecting a lot of information that can be used for evaluation as well as the usual running of the activity.
Some of the outcomes you set out to achieve may be difficult to measure and count, so you would need to use indicators that assess the change approximately (proxies) rather than directly.
To find out more about indicators and how to write them, see Evaluation Support Scotland’s guide on Developing and Using Indicators.
Using off-the-shelf indicators and tools
It is important to be aware that there are a variety of indicator sets and outcomes measurement tools that are already available. The Life Changes Trust will publish a guide to some of the available measures of quality of life and well-being and may ask those we fund to use one, or more, of these to evaluate certain aspects of work.
A joint project between the Urban Institute and The Center for What Works has compiled information on outcomes and performance indicators for 14 specific program areas, including assisted living, advocacy, and youth mentoring.
Big Society Capital have produced a Social Outcomes Matrix. This comprises nine outcome areas supported by related measures to assess social impact at the individual level as well as for the community sector and society overall. You can build up a set of outcomes and indicators that can then be downloaded to form the basis of a monitoring and evaluation plan.
There are a number of tests, scales and other tools that can be used for measuring outcomes and distance travelled. By ‘distance travelled’ we refer to the changes or outcomes that have taken place as people progress along a pathway as a result of your intervention, for example from addiction to recovery.
Many indicators sets and outcome tools undergo substantial testing and are validated for use by others. Make sure to check out the work that has gone into the development of such measures and where they have been used by others in your field.
Links to these and other useful examples are listed at the end of this section.
Setting targets for your indicators
How will you know if your project is on track? How will you gauge if it is successful? This is where setting targets becomes an important part of planning your project.
It is likely that your work with beneficiaries will be an evolving, long-term process, so targets can be important in checking on progress and maintaining momentum.
For each relevant indicator we will ask you to devise an appropriate target. This should be worked out carefully, ensuring that any aspirations that you set are both stretching and achievable. Targets can either be quantifiable or time-based.
The table below gives an example of an indicator and quantifiable target.
Outcome – To improve access to local services by people affected by dementia
Examples of tools to measure quality of life and well-being or distance travelled
I.ROC (Individual Recovery Outcomes Counter) is an outcome measurement tool created by Penumbra in order to measure the recovery journey of people who use services.
GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child): Wellbeing Web. The Wellbeing Web has been developed by practitioners in Angus and is intended to be an interactive and engaging process to measure outcomes. This tool is based on an affirmative coaching model focusing on people’s potential rather than their problems. It is used to support and assist growth and change.
The ASCOT measure (developed at the University of Kent) is designed to capture information about an individual's social care-related quality of life (SCRQoL). The aim is for the measure to be applicable across as wide a range of user groups and care and support settings as possible.
- The Life Changes Trust guide to Measures of Quality of Life and Well-being (forthcoming)
- Angus Council GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child): Wellbeing Web
- Big Society Capital Social Outcomes Matrix
- The Charities Evaluation Service information on Outcome and Indicator Banks
- Evaluation Support Scotland’s guide to Developing and Using Indicators
- The Inspiring Impact Hub provides a great starting point to sourcing the tool that is right for your project
- New Philanthropy Capital and Clinks have worked together to produce a helpful guide to Using Off-the-shelf Tools to Measure Change.
- Penumbra’s I.ROC (Individual Recovery Outcomes Counter)
- University of Kent, Personal Social Services Research Unit ASCOT measure designed to capture information about an individual's social care-related quality of life (SCRQoL).