Measuring Impact White Paper Questions

The goal of this white paper is to help organizations learn from each other about how they measure the impact of the work they do to bridge the digital divide. We are interested in organizations’ experiences to share. 

  1. In brief, what does your organization currently do to measure impact?
    1. For example, what is the result of providing computers.
    2. What is the result from providing training?
    3. Do people report feeling more connected? Are students able to do more of their homework at home? What happened as the result of the thing you are counting?
    4. Where is this information published/shared? Who is the target audience?
  2. What kinds of data collection tools do you use (i.e. databases, surveys, interviews)?
  3. What do you wish you could measure but don’t currently measure? For example, it would be great to be able to measure the financial impact of having a computer in a family’s house after a year. Do students’ grades improve? Does quality of life improve? Do people spend less time waiting in line at government offices?
  4. Do you collaborate with other organizations to collectively express impact with other organizations? If so, how? Have you tried to measure the impact of computers given to other nonprofits in your area?
  5. Are there any educational resources related to measuring impact that you’d like to share with other organizations?
  6. What do you perceive as the key benefits derived from collecting measurements? Since nonprofits have to talk about their impact to get a grant, is the cost worth it? What is the cost/benefit analysis for your organization?
  7. If there is anyone in your organization responsible for compiling your impact measures for refurbishing and computer training, what is their title and how many hours per month does this take? Or do you contract this out? We are looking for the cost (in time, or however you’d like to measure it) of gathering this information.

Background is available at:

    3. – an example of some impacts from DuPage County.

If you’re curious about where this topic came from, there was a Digital Inclusion Outcomes-Based Evaluation By Colin Rhinesmith and Angela Siefer

Published by the Benton Foundation, May 2017 that was distributed at the Net Inclusion 2017 conference.

This report defines outcomes-based evaluation as observable and measurable changes that happen at individual, program and/or community level. The body of the report presents challenges brought up in workshops held in 2016.

Need for:

  1. Shared vocabulary and definitions of digital inclusion and outcomes based evaluation
  2. evaluation tools and support
  3. Common indicators
  4. time and resources to do outcomes based evaluation.

Several existing tools and frameworks are highlighted ( IMLS: Framework for Action, Project Outcome free toolkit for libraries, Impact Survey by UW, Open Technology Institute framework designed with Everyone On).

A digital equity logic model is presented with illustration of how resources, activities and outputs lead to short-term, mid/long-term outcomes and impact.

Authors recommend that this emerging field be developed and expanded through grassroots efforts. (In other words – there’s some training and support that really needs to happen.)

Based on this, we think  it would be interesting to ask partners what they plan to do in the next 2-3 years related to measuring/communicating impact of their work.