Why collecting good baseline data is vital for showing your impact

When using NPC’s Well-being Measure, we always emphasise the importance of planning and preparation. Nowhere is this more crucial than when it comes to collecting data at the start of your programme – what is known as ‘baseline data’.

Baseline data is information gathered before a program begins – in the case of NPC’s Well-being Measure with your ‘initial’ survey. This data is used later on to provide a comparison for assessing your programme’s impact after you have completed the ‘follow-up’ survey.

If you don’t collect good baseline data then you will not be able to make a reliable comparison and risk underplaying your impact. For good baseline data, there are two main issues you need to think about:

1. Make sure as many participants as possible complete the initial survey. The Well-being Measure matches individual participants between your two surveys so you need that initial point of comparison if you want to have a large sample.

2. Collect data before your course starts. We know that in some programmes the most rapid change in young people’s well-being happen early on so if you don’t collect your baseline data until after the programme has begun, then you may not capture all your impact.

For guidance on setting up your evaluation and collecting data, visit our Help & FAQs page.

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About John Copps

John is part of NPC's research and consulting team and is the founder of NPC's Well-being Measure, a social business that provides an online tool to measure young people’s well-being. He has eight years experience of research and consulting, and is passionate about how data can be used to improve the performance of organisations. John is a regular contributor to NPC's blog and has also contributed to pieces for BBC Radio, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. John is a governor of a secondary school.
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2 Responses to Why collecting good baseline data is vital for showing your impact

  1. Andrew says:

    Is regular baseline studies always necessary?

  2. John Copps says:

    Hi Andrew, thanks for your question.

    If you want to get a sense of ‘distance travelled’ then getting an accurate measure of the starting point – the ‘baseline’ – is absolutely critical. Otherwise, as I say above, you will have no real idea whether there has been change and how significant this change is

    Other things, such as customer satisfaction, can be measured without a baseline. For some research where it is not possible to establish a starting point, this may be the best you can do.

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