Authors: Cunningham, Katie; Ricks, Marc
Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review
Number of pages: 9
"Everywhere you turn in the world of philanthropy and nonprofits these days, people are talking about accountability," stated the lead sentence of a recent New York Times article that reported on the need to measure nonprofit effectiveness. Indeed, the buzzwords of "transparency" and "accountability" contribute to making performance measurement one of the hottest topics in philanthropy.
Proponents of measurement believe that philanthropists need to apply the same discerning eye to charities that they would to a stock investment, and that one way to do so is for the charities to measure the success of their programs.
Against this backdrop, we began a recent research study not just with the belief that performance measurement could make a meaningful contribution to the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations, but also with the hypothesis that others would share this view. We did not set out to test this hypothesis because we felt its truth was self-evident. Why wouldn’t donors be supportive of performance measurement? Instead, our goal was to contribute to the design of these metrics by asking donors to describe their ideal performance measurement tool. In short, we began with an acknowledged bias in favor of the wider use of performance measurement.
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