Success Measures was created in the late 1990s by leading community development practitioners as a means of holding themselves more accountable and gaining consensus about what was important to measure and what could be effectively measured. Their goal was to develop an outcome evaluation methodology that was:

  • Participatory
  • Collaborative
  • Rigorous
  • Credible, and
  • Able to build organizational capacity while also advancing knowledge in the field

More than 300 community development practitioners, intermediaries, funders, researchers, and evaluators participated in the program’s development, working together to develop usable tools to evaluate actual outcomes, rather than just outputs or measures of performance.  Initially developed by the Development Leadership Network and the McAuley Institute, Success Measures has operated as a social enterprise at NeighborWorks America  since 2004.

Key to Success Measures’ innovative work was the development of the Success Measures Data System, a user-friendly, web-based platform that houses the library of data collection tools and provides a centralized and secure environment for organizations to plan, implement and manage all phases of evaluation.

From these origins, Success Measures has evolved into a specialized, outcome evaluation resource for the community development field, offering evaluation consulting, technical  assistance, data collection tools and specialized technology.  Success Measures has stayed true to its roots by being accessible, adaptable and collaborative, responding to the latest trends and issues in the field through development of new data collection tool sets and state-of-the-art software features. Measurement tools now exceed 350 across a broad range of community development and health-related programs.

Success Measures is continually refining and streamlining its approach to reach its overall goal to build nonprofit and philanthropic capacity to carry out and learn from useful evaluation processes in ongoing and sustainable ways.

Since the program’s inception, Success Measures has:
  • Supported nearly 900 community-based organizations and 30 of their funding and intermediary partners in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to evaluate a range of people and place- based strategies
  • Trained and introduced thousands of community development professionals and practitioners to conduct evaluations using Success Measures methods and tools, through workshops, presentations, and web conferences
  • Expanded the number of shared outcome measures offered through the Success Measures Data System to more than 350 data collection instruments that cover housing, health outcomes, community revitalization, community and resident engagement, economic development, financial education and capability, green homes and communities, resident services, and the role of intermediaries in the community development field.

Learn more about SMDS here.