query: organizing outcomes

colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Thu Mar 4 08:22:56 CST 2004

[ed:  thanks to Linda for reporting back on the off-list replies that she 

Dear colleagues,

Thanks to the many of  you who responded to my request for measuring
outcomes for community organizing. Below are the two responses to my
inquiry that were not posted to the general list.  Again, thank to all of
you for sharing your wisdom. What a privilege to be on a list with you

Linda Plitt Donaldson
Catholic University


After much grappling with this very same question across 18 
organizations and almost two years, we have arrived at 6 measures that 
we believe cover key outcomes of organizing work, at least in the 
context of community development organizations:  

1.      Residents serving in leadership roles -      participating on 
committees, block clubs, neighborhood associations
-       serving as board members, officers or committee chairs -      

2.      Partnerships 

3.      Economic impact 
-       Funds leveraged as a result of organizing efforts 
-       In-kind resources 
-       Volunteer hours 

4.      Physical community improvements 

5.      Shifts in power dynamics 
-       # new registered voters 
-       # residents involved in public advocacy or organizing campaigns - 
     # residents interacting with decision-making bodies -       #
positive media hits of community 

6.      Institutional change 
-       Improved public service delivery or public resource distribution
to community -       Crime rates -       Homeownership rates -      
Resident stability/mobility -       Property values -       Voting rates -
      Unemployment/employment rates -       School attendance, drop-
out, completion rates 

As the national convener of the Pilot, we are now collecting this data 
from the 18 participating organizations. It still needs some tightening 
up, but seems to be a pretty good data set. We also like that it is 
indicative of the developmental/ progressive nature of community 
organizing. In other words, you start with your base - building resident 
leadership. From there you hope to increase resources and build a 
power base through partnerships and other means. We have found that 
physical community improvements frequently are a strong point of entry 
to get more people engaged and committed to working on community 
change efforts. Then the last two sets of measures are about more 
fundamental and institutional change that you hope to eventually get to 
through organizing.  

Feel free to pass this along to the listserv.

Susan Naimark

Resident Leadership Initiative

Neighborhood Reinvestment

Boston, MA


The traditional macro evaluation tools are dual:  1) issue campaigns 
won (very specific demands agreed to) and 2) the number of new 
leaders developed who can perform the tasks needed to run a local 
community organization.  

Ultimately, an organizing effort is judged by its ability to change the
relations of power between institutional powers (city and state gov't;
corporations) and the leadership represented by the community
organization.  This is the harder and more fuzzy standard.

Now there are very specific standards for measuring the professional 
competence of organizers.  See gamaliel.org -- the section on 
STANDARDS FOR ORGANIZERS.  See gatherthepeople.org -- check 
list for evaluating an organizer.   

These leads would be a good place to start.

Nathan Sooy
Lead Organizer


> > 
> > From: "Linda Plitt Donaldson" <lp.donaldson at verizon.net>
> > 
> > I am wondering what type of benchmarks people/organizations are
> > using to measuring outcomes for community organizing.
> > Organizations/groups that I am working with have expressed a
> > reluctance to hire an organizer partly because they're not sure
> > how to demonstrate progress to funders and to Board members who
> > are dubious about the "concrete" benefits of organizing.  
> > 
> > What are people using to measure organizing outcomes, and does
> > anyone know of any literature written about measuring outcomes
> > in organizing?  
> > 
> > Thanks.
> > 
> > Linda Plitt Donaldson
> > Catholic University
> > 
> > 

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