Measuring and accounting for outcomes in Australian human services charities

Sarah Adams, Lydia Kilcullen, Zoe Callis, Paul Flatau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we investigate the practices of outcomes measurement and outcomes reporting among charities in the Australian human services sector. Motivated by a succession of regulations around the world that promote outcomes-based reporting and decision-making, we investigate, in the case of human services charities: (1) the users of outcomes measurement; (2) the purpose of outcomes measurement; (3) the readiness to measure outcomes; and, (4) the public reporting on outcomes. Our analysis draws on a survey of human services charities in Western Australia. We show that outcomes reporting is driven by identity and upwards accountability rather than downwards accountability, particularly among small charities. While measuring outcomes was common in our sample, especially among large organisations, these outcomes are not often publicly reported. We suggest that practical barriers may be impeding progress on improving outcomes reporting, raising issues about reporting quality. These findings raise important questions about the role and implications of standardisation for outcomes measurement and reporting, which may help to inform future regulatory efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-138
Number of pages30
JournalThird Sector Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring and accounting for outcomes in Australian human services charities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this