Great illustration of outcomes versus outputs

Here is a superb illustration of outcomes measurement from audio recording of Nathan Adam’s presentation at the 2011 Christian Leadership Alliance conference in Dallas:

Recidivism rate of faith-based prisons was a small fraction of the state prisons.

When he worked in the Florida state government, there were three faith-based prisons in the state. Their recidivism rate was 1/16th the rate of the state prison.

That means that the rate of people winding up in jail again from the state prisons was 16 times higher than the faith-based prisons. 16 times. That is a drastic difference. That means the faith-based prisons were really changing attitudes and behaviors of inmates.

Notice the measurement isn’t that they handled prisoners at a lower cost per year. They may have. The far more important thing is that of people leaving their custody, there was a radically lower proportion that came back into the legal system.

If you can quantify your ministry outcomes in that sort of way, you will have wonderful discussions with your funders.

What is the difference?

  • Inputs – dollars spent
  • Outputs – number of units – how many people served, sat in the classroom chair, called the help-line phone number
  • Outcomes – number of lives changed, people not back in jail, number not using dope or booze

How does that work out when you look at comparison of state prison and faith-based prisons? Look at it this way.

  • Inputs – The faith-based prisons received $XX million, state prisons $X,XXX million. So what?
  • Outputs – XXX versus XXXX inmates. Again, so what.  Cost per inmate? Maybe higher, maybe lower, but probably about the same. Again, so what?
  • Outcomes – state recidivism 16X%, faith-based recidivism 1X%.  Radical difference.

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