Activities are the things your program does. These include, but are not limited to: providing extended representation or limited services to clients; operating a hotline; conducting research; conducting pro se clinics and community education sessions; producing and publishing online legal information materials and pro se resources; recruiting, training and overseeing the work of attorneys as part of the program’s private attorney involvement (PAI) initiatives; advocacy to improve laws, regulations, policies, and court rules and practices; and building coalitions with other providers to address clients’ problems.
Closed cases and legal problem type should be defined based on the relevant sections of the LSC Case Service Report Handbook (Chapter VIII and Chapter IX, respectively). In particular:
- Limited service cases should be based on LSC CSR codes A-B
- Extended service cases should be based on LSC CSR codes F-L
Data is a collection of facts, such as values or measurements. It can be numbers, words, measurements, observations, or even descriptions of things.
- Quantitative data is numerical information, including statistical data. (A statistic is a number that summarizes other numbers.) Examples include different types of administrative data and survey data, such as the responses to the multiple choice of yes/no questions in this survey.
- Qualitative data provides descriptive information. This includes the results of interviews, focus groups, program assessments by outside reviewers, and the results of the detailed responses and comments responses in this survey. It provides in-depth information that can help explain or help researchers better understand short-answer survey responses and other quantitative data. (Researchers typically “quantify” these data by grouping it into relevant categories.)
Data analysis and reporting are complementary and overlapping processes that can employ the same or closely integrated systems.
- Data analysis denotes compilation, organizing, analyzing through statistical or qualitative means, and identifying the data that are most effective for understanding and demonstrating client services.
- Data reporting involves the presentation of data in formats (e.g., text, charts, graphs, mapping, other visualizations) that enable programs to use data for different purposes and different audiences (e.g., program management, program staff, funders).
Data use denotes the ultimate purposes for which grantees use data. Some of these include identifying client needs, setting priorities, developing and assessing advocacy strategies, evaluating and demonstrating program quality, resource development, and meeting funder requirements. It also includes how data can be best analyzed and presented for different audiences.
External Benchmarking is a way of measuring performance against an outside standard. Some of the external standards legal services providers use include the LSC Performance Criteria and the ABA Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid. Other standards can include those used by federal or state government funders, bar foundations or IOLTA funders, private foundations, academic entities, or those used in the private sector.
Metrics are pieces of quantitative data used to demonstrate the quality, effectiveness, or value of a program’s client services. They are types of standards or measures (see below).
Inputs are what your program uses to achieve its objectives. These include funding, equipment, and staffing (including total number, staff categories, and specialized expertise).
Outputs are what your program produces as a result of its activities. These include the number of cases closed; the number and types of clients served; research analyses produced; pro se clinics conducted and persons participating in the clinics; pro se and informational materials posted on the program or statewide website and web analytics or similar data sources regarding page hits and document downloads; community education sessions conducted and persons participating in those sessions; press releases distributed; and op-eds and other materials published by program staff.
Outcomes are the results for clients or the community of your activities. Examples include: the number of evictions prevented or delayed; foreclosures prevented; divorces obtained; domestic violence protective orders obtained; and SSI or other public benefits obtained. Outcomes also include the monetary value of the benefits obtained from a variety of sources, such as: the retroactive amount and monthly amounts of SSI benefits for a set period of time; amount of food stamp (SNAP) benefits obtained; amount of consumer recoveries or debt avoided; and the amount of child support obtained. Outcomes can also include the assessments of clients, community groups, other service providers, or other stakeholders and improving protections for and court practices on domestic violence; improving child support enforcement; and preserving and increasing housing stock for low-income families.
Resources and information include training, technical assistance, templates, informational and guidance materials, best practices information, etc. They incorporate the lessons learned and best practices of other legal services programs.
Standards and measures are criteria used to demonstrate the quality, effectiveness, or value of a program’s client services. They can include both the quantitative and qualitative data discussed above.