Demonstrating Outcomes and Impact across Different Scales

This research report demonstrates how evidence of outcomes and impact can be better captured, integrated and reported on across different scales of work for Australian NGOs working in international development. The report looks at some of the different methods available to reporting at different scales ‘beyond the project’.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Jo Hall.

Authors and their affiliation

Jo Hall, PhD student and freelance consultant, Australian National University.

Year of publication


Type of resource

Discussion paper

Key features

Some NGOs are satisfied that making their contribution one project at a time is sufficient and there is nothing to be gained from investigating what it all adds up to. Others think that to appreciate the true contribution of NGOs requires thinking beyond single projects. The Australian Council for international Development (ACFID) and the Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network commissioned this research report to show how evidence of outcomes and impact can be better captured, integrated and reported on across different scales of work for Australian NGOs working in international development.

The report considers the strengths and limitations of three broad groups of approaches and methods: using indicators, evaluation approaches and research approaches, taking account of seven factors that are important for NGOs to consider when capturing and reporting on outcomes across different scales:

  • Being clear on the purpose and questions and making use of the information
  • Applying fit-for-purpose methods in fit-for purpose ways
  • Adopting methods and approaches that address complexity
  • Considering the needs of all partners, including locally
  • Capturing the distinctive contribution of the NGOs
  • Not being overly complicated, technocratic or exacerbating fragmentation
  • Having adequate resourcing to meet the purpose

The research is not a comprehensive treatise on the subject, rather it focuses on describing and analysing some of the major approaches and methods that are likely to be relevant for Australian NGOs and draws on numerous examples, including five case studies, to illustrate. The Using indicators chapter looks at aggregating results; framing indicators; coalition indicators and rating indicators. The Evaluative approaches chapter considers strategic level evaluations and evaluation synthesis methods. The Research approaches chapter covers case studies and some other qualitative methods. The final chapter looks at some practical examples of combining the methods and approaches.

Who is this resource useful for?

  • Commissioners/managers of evaluation;
  • Evaluators;
  • Those involved in evaluation capacity strengthening;
  • NGOs working in international development

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This resource gives a useful overview of the various methods and approaches available to assess the collective contribution of a number of projects and considers how they might be useful for different purposes. It is particularly helpful in giving real life examples of the methods.​

Why would you recommend it to other people?

Monitoring and Evaluation has become part of the development lexicon ('M&E') but is not delivering on its promise of deepening the global understanding of what works and what doesn't or helping partner countries select likely successes in international aid. This report suggests ways for development professionals to think 'beyond the project' and address complexity and local ownership when monitoring and evaluating at different scales.


Hall, J. (2017). Demonstrating Outcomes and Impact Across Different Scales. Retrieved from:

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Resource Suggested By
PhD student and freelance consultant, Australian National University.
Canberra, Australia.


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