Establish your measures

Measures of success indicate what needs to be measured in order to assess the activity’s success.

Building evaluation measures into your plan helps keep you focused, and allows you to check how you have gone against the objectives you set at the start.

Benefits of evaluation

  • check how you have gone against the objectives you set at the start
  • assess the effectiveness of your activity
  • describe your successes to others
  • identify the areas you intend to improve next time
  • stay motivated and be thinking ahead to the next aspect of your development.

Think long term

Often community action to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harms is an ongoing process over many years.

Measuring success is something to be done throughout the delivery of your activities, not just at the end.

Process measures

Process measures relate to your activity processes and how it is being delivered. They help you to monitor whether your activity is going well or needs to be tweaked – before it’s too late.

Process measures focus on activity implementation (e.g. quality, satisfaction), reach (number of target audience affected by the activity), and outputs (what is delivered). Outputs are usually described numerically, such as number of events held or number of attendees.

Impact and outcome measures

Impact and outcome measures relate to the difference your activity has made. They are used to measure short and medium-term effects (impacts) and longer-term effects (outcomes -which may be out of scope for your time-frame) of your activity. Impact and outcome measures help you to build a picture of your activity’s influence on individuals, organisations and communities. All activity should contribute to the long-term outcome of preventing alcohol and other drug harms.

Measures of success need to be determined for your key activities. As a rule of thumb, try to specify at least two process and two impact measures for each activity. Find measurement tools within individual toolkits. This provides a suite of process and impact success measures that relate to the toolkit activity. These provide a good starting point to developing your own activity success measures.

Tips for developing measures of success:

  • try not to be over-ambitious, such as over- estimating the turnout to an event or achieving significant community change in a short period of time. This can lead to activity being assessed in ways that might not be achievable.
  • be careful not to confuse outputs (what is delivered) with outcomes (what long-term changes are desired). Is each outcome truly an ‘outcome’?
  • develop impact measures to answer the question: What is different as a result of your activities? It Is likely it will deliver short and medium impacts that, if sustained, will become an outcome.
  • consider outcomes that may occur in the long-term at different levels including individual, organisation and community. These may be noted as longer term outcomes your activities are working to achieve and may provide a longer-term focus for your group/community
  • link the measures of success to your activity objectives.

Some example measures of success for community action to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harms are provided the table below. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s suite of toolkits contain other success measures. You may find these a useful starting point for developing your own.

Community action examples

Education sessions

Process measures

  • Number of education sessions
  • Number of participants
  • Number/quality of resources and materials distributed
  • Partners involved in planning the sessions
  • Participant satisfaction with session

Impact/Outcome measures

  • Increase in awareness, knowledge, attitudes or skills
  • Change in behaviour
  • Improved access to information for target audience

Partnership work

Process measures

Number/range of partners involved

  • Number of meetings attended
  • Representation on local networks
  • Number of partnership agreements established
  • Whether the partnership activity went according to plan
  • Partnership engagement processes

Impact/Outcome measures

  • Development and implementation of new policies and procedures
  • committed to preventing alcohol and drug harm (e.g. workplace, local government, partner organisation)
  • The number and types of partnerships generated (and embedded)

Awareness raising

Process measures

  • Number/quality resources and materials developed
  • Number of subscribers of e-newsletters
  • Number of website views
  • Local/social media coverage
  • Satisfaction with activity resources (e.g. messaging)

Impact/Outcome measures

  • Increase in awareness and knowledge
  • Increased integration of alcohol and other drug-related issues in organisational policies and plans
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