International affairs organizations know all too well the importance of outcomes tracking. How can you eliminate poverty, improve sanitation, or increase clean water access without data? This data demonstrates programmatic success and indicates that your grant dollars and donations contribute to your mission.
When you and your team are deep in the work of doing good, it’s challenging to stop, take a step back, and evaluate your progress. However, if you put in the leg work, define outcomes and track inputs, you will reap the benefits.
Here are three top tips to accurately define outcomes at your international affairs organization:
1. Determine your organization’s KPIs.
This requires collaboration among your staff, board, and other stakeholders. What are the big vision goals your organization aims to achieve? What are the incremental, measurable steps you will take on the path to accomplish these big goals? For example, an organization that builds schools in underserved communities abroad may have a KPI to build 500 schools by 2030, increasing literacy rates by 35%.
2. Identify transactional versus impact data.
Transactional data refers to the inputs required to achieve your mission. Using the example from above, transactional data includes building supplies, laborers and teachers, schoolbooks, etc. With this data, you determine progress toward your KPI to build 500 schools by 2030.
Impact data indicates your programs’ outcomes. This data provides proof points of your organization’s progress toward increasing literacy rates. What percentage of students increased reading comprehension and writing skills? This data demonstrates progress toward your big vision goals of improving education and the quality of life for your constituents.
3. Tie your fundraising programs to outcomes.
To effectively budget for your programs, your organization must map your fundraising programs to outcomes. This data also fuels your communications with donors and provides meaningful follow-up regarding progress toward your goals.
As your organization begins to track outcomes or streamlines your current outcomes management process, remember to share your progress. The challenges your organization seeks to overcome may seem insurmountable. However, through outcomes tracking, your organization will understand your progress, and your stakeholders will be inspired by your visionary work.