Reading and Writing Foundation harvests effects

The Reading and Writing Foundation wants to better understand how its support to municipalities contributes to better policy and implementation. So that people with low literacy can be helped even better. The foundation already reports annually on the activities carried out but want to gain more insight into what all those efforts achieve. Using Outcome Harvesting as a methodology.
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Apr 21, 2023


Reading and Writing Foundation (Stichting Lezen en Schrijven)


Can you help us set up and supervise an Outcome Harvesting pilot?


  • We developed the Outcome Harvesting Action Book; a practical guide for advisors to apply Outcome Harvesting (OH) in their labour market region.
  • Advisors became acquainted with the methodology and learned how to formulate effects during a joint writing session.
  • Advisors independently harvested even more changes in their region, refined them with feedback from the trainers and recorded them in the online Sprockler database. External parties were invited to test the results.
  • In a learning session we reflected together on the harvest and what this means for the work of the Reading and Writing Foundation.


  • The Reading and Writing Foundation has gained practical experience with Outcome Harvesting.
  • Advisors have made the switch from monitoring activities to making effects (changes) visible.
  • The Reading and Writing Foundation has decided to use Outcome Harvesting more widely to gain more insight into the effects of the Approach to Low Literacy in Municipalities programme.

A familiar challenge. You set up a program with a wide range of activities. Because you never know in advance what works and what doesn’t. To be accountable, you then report what you have done and how you have done it. This answers the questions: ‘Are we doing what we promised?‘ and ‘Are we doing things right?‘. But that still does not tell you what the effect was of all those interventions.

“We not only want to monitor activities, but also make the effects visible and learn how we can be as effective as possible.” – Reading and Writing Foundation

About Outcome Harvesting

Outcome Harvesting is an evaluation method used to identify, describe, test, and interpret an effect or change. The method was developed by Ricardo Wilson-Grau and colleagues. It is applied in more than 140 countries, mainly for social projects and in government settings.

We often think of an effect as a direct result of our actions; A leads to B leads to C. But it rarely works that way because there are usually also external influences. In Outcome Harvesting we therefore start at the end, with the description of the effect that has been achieved. What does an external party (e.g., a student, a group of volunteers or a municipality) does differently than before? From there you look back at how the change came about and how your project or activity contributed to it. And if and what the contribution of others was.


The Reading and Writing Foundation decided to conduct a pilot to investigate whether and how Outcome Harvesting can contribute to reflective learning; both by individual advisors and within the program at large. Five advisors collected results under the guidance of the project team and Perspectivity trainers. This information was entered into the Sprockler database. This online platform combines qualitative stories and quantitative data in accessible visual reports. External parties were then invited to test the results.

In a joint learning session, we reflected on the harvest together: ‘What do we see? How does this relate to the foundation’s theory of change? What does this mean for the daily work of advisers and for the approach to low literacy in municipalities?’ Based on the pilot, the Reading and Writing Foundation has decided to start applying Outcome Harvesting more widely in their Approach to Low Literacy in Municipalities programme.

Change in thinking

Outcome Harvesting requires a change in thinking: from focus on actions to focus on results. By shifting the focus to the effects in the outside world, you get an answer to the question: ‘Are we doing the right things?’ You also learn what helped and what stood in the way of achieving these results. This provides insight into what works, both in your own approach and in the added value of a program or method.

More information?