How can you measure your effectiveness?

Having defined your outputs and outcomes, and decided how to measure them, you are now in a position to start talking about the effectiveness of your program. 

Effectiveness is how well you achieve a specific outcome, given the output that you are providing. 

Case Study

Let’s go back to our example of the volunteer maths program, where low-income students who are failing at maths are offered a place in an out-of-schools program run by volunteer maths teachers.  

Suppose the aim of the program is to help students achieve a certain minimum level of maths proficiency, as measured by a target exam result. The outcome metric of the venture is ‘How many students went on to achieve a B grade or higher in Maths?’ The output metric of the venture is ‘How many students enrolled in our out-of-school workshops?’  

Effectiveness is the ratio of the outcome to the output. So if 100 failing students enrol, and 50% of them then achieve a B grade or higher, then the effectiveness of this program is ’50 students in every 100 that enrol in our program achieve a B grade or higher in Maths’. 

By offering this kind of statistic, the venture is able to market itself to funders and also to be able to offer comparisons with other programs on the market. 

When calculating effectiveness, it is important to be aware of selection bias. How were the students selected? Were they the top performing students in the school? The lowest performing? A mix? A group who signed up voluntarily (i.e. who self-selected)? These will all skew your results. It’s important to be explicit and deliberate about these selection effects, as they impact effectiveness. 


Write the answers to the questions below onto post-its and create a visual overviewof the problem.

  • Which geography are you addressing? 
  • What is the cost of the problem to society? 
  • Can you describe in detail the communities that you would be serving? 
  • Predominantly men or women? 
  • Age group? 
  • Income level? 
  • Which livelihoods? 
  • Can they access credit? 
  • How do they receive information? 
  • What is the magnitude of the problem? (Number of people affected, directly andindirectly) 
  • What are the root causes of the problem? 

Write down in one page or less the social problem that you are seeking to address.

Use the visualisation to be as specific as possible


Investors will be particularly interested in the cost effectiveness of your venture. 

Suppose it costs $1000 for our education venture to run a year-long series of workshops that helps 100 failing students, of which at least 50 go on to attain a good grade in Maths. 

The venture can now say to funders “Every $1000 invested in us helps 50 failing students achieve a B grade or higher in Maths”. This enables funders to gauge the cost-effectiveness of the program.  

Should they invest $1,000 in this workshop venture, or should they invest $1,000 in a rival online product that can reach 10,000 students but with a 10% success rate? Provision of these metrics now gives them the basis to decide. 

Back to: Measuring Impact > Measuring Impact

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