Shared Measurement of Outcomes in the Social Sector

The current study describes an important development in social service measurement that is gaining interest in many countries, namely, the growing efforts of groups of organizations to develop common measures and to employ shared measurement. This trend has been significantly stimulated by the growing attempts to advance collaboration in the social services (including inter-sectorial collaboration for collective impact).

Usually, outcome measurement is by contrast carried out independently by each organization and for each program. Each organization defines its own goals and methods of measurement and examines separately the extent to which its outcomes are achieved.

  • Common measures are an infrastructure that supports measurement efforts. This infrastructure includes a menu of outcomes, outcome measures, and measurement tools relating to a given social domain. This infrastructure may be used as an “open menu” from which an organization chooses outcomes and measures in which they have a particular interest. In other instances, a “core set” of outcomes and measures may be defined for uniform use by all organizations, alongside an “extended optional set” that may be used according to the particular interests and needs of the various organizations.
  • Shared measurement is a collaborative measurement process conducted among a number of organizations engaged in a defined social area and working to achieve similar or shared goals. Shared measurement can also relate to measurement that is implemented among different units of the same complex organization. Shared measurement includes the joint definition of common goals and measures, an agreed measurement process, the sharing of measurement findings, and may also include engagement in collaborative learning and joint drawing of conclusions.

Attempts at shared measurement are already being made abroad and implemented in different contexts and the effort to develop a conceptual framework to refine knowledge of shared measurement is gathering momentum. Yet, little has been done to date in Israel to develop and implement these practices and this review is one of the first attempts to promote the subject conceptually and practically.

The review develops the concepts of common measures and shared measurement, analyzes the main benefits and challenges of each, and presents a number of real-world examples. As a compliment to this review, a handbook for implementing shared measurement in the context of inter-organizational collaboration will be published separately.  It will include a guide to the steps in developing and implementing shared measurement, and lessons from previous experiences as documented in the international literature.

The review was supported by the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation.