About Success Measures

Representing more than a decade of development and testing by community development practitioners, funders, intermediaries and researchers across the country, Success Measures assists local organizations, intermediaries, and their philanthropic and public sector partners to plan and conduct evaluations using participatory methods and a growing, well-vetted suite of more than 350 data collection instruments. The Success Measures Data System’s (SMDS) library of these tools, a web-based platform available by subscription, can be used individually or in combination, to measure the results of community development programs. SMDS also structures data collection tools for fieldwork or online delivery, and tabulates, aggregates and stores the resulting evaluation data for easy retrieval or download for further analysis.

Success Measures’ participatory approach fits easily into an organization’s existing structure and processes; the content is credible and relevant; applying it is straightforward and practical. Services available from the Success Measures enterprise include evaluation consulting, training, technical assistance, and access to its data system. These services are tailored to the specific interests of organizations and funders seeking to learn from and demonstrate the results of their programs and investments in communities nationwide.

Clients of Success Measures, both nonprofits and funders, seek assistance with targeted outcome evaluation planning, data collection and analysis, and technology services, utilizing the Success Measures Data System (SMDS) to systematically gather information at the individual, organizational and/or community level.

Organizations at all levels have access to all Success Measures evaluation products and services to select the combination of tools that best addresses their outcome evaluation and program assessment needs.

Practitioners use Success Measures to:
  • Assess the impact of sustained, strategic interventions
  • Demonstrate effectiveness to stakeholders
  • Inform development and sequencing of program strategies
  • Inform implementation for midcourse revisions
  • Foster and cultivate relationships with the community
  • Enhance resident participation in revitalization and other programmatic efforts
  • Provide more proactive and transparent communication with stakeholders
  • Identify emerging trends and hidden opportunities
  • Make the case for continued or increased funding support
Funders, intermediaries and policy makers use Success Measures to:
  • Build capacity of grantees to access, cultivate, analyze and share meaningful data
  • Assess impact of grants and other investments
  • Guide and refine grant making strategy
  • Build a data-driven platform for meaningful programmatic discussion with grantees
  • Inform policy analysis and development
  • Pool knowledge among grantees to leverage investments
  • Focus attention of investors on the significance and substance of community development
  • Gather a valuable repository of data to understand the most effective practices, and replicate program models in other areas and across the country
  • Pinpoint broader trends and needs across a grantmaking portfolio, geographic region or broader constituency
  • Identify where investments are demonstrating results


To provide the community development field with a practical, credible and accessible way to collect, analyze, and use data for continuous evaluative learning, to tell stories of change and to demonstrate results.

Success Measures develops and delivers outcome measurement tools and services through state-of- the-art mechanisms that have the potential to bring participatory evaluation to scale, enhance local capacity and inform equitable, sustainable community strategies.

Success Measures’ work is guided by the following core values and principles:
  • Practicality
  • Participatory engagement
  • Respect
  • Cultural competence
  • Collaboration
  • Responsiveness and flexibility
  • Stewardship

Success Measures is:

Practitioner driven: The Success Measures approach engages practitioners and stakeholders through a straightforward process that allows an organization to reinforce connections with recipients of its services to improve understanding of best practice at the community level.

Based on community development evaluation content and expertise: Success Measures translates evaluation and applied research concepts into practice. Both practitioners and evaluation experts have vetted the full suite of Success Measures data collection tools. 

Methodologically sound: Two decades of research and practice have demonstrated that a participatory approach to evaluation leads to more relevant evaluation results and self-sustained action in local communities. Practitioners believe participatory evaluations to be more useful and credible. Success Measures ensures the rigor of it’s data collection tools through expert input and review as well as thorough field testing.