What are appropriate performance measures in philanthropy? Once on staff at a typical endowed foundation, how do you know if you're succeeding? How does your boss know? Can foundation professionals be held accountable for success or failure of their grant making strategies? Or, as the title of this post suggests, does "nothing happen if nothing happens?"
The Agitator poses this question a slightly different way - How do you know if a nonprofit is not good enough? Tom asks:
"But how is performance by a nonprofit's leadership team generally appraised? What questions get asked, and by whom?Its hard for those who do the work - even harder to know if those who are funding some of it are performing. Some foundation executives have performance measures that hold them accountable for leverage - attracting "other people's money" to the work they support. Others set performance benchmarks for each portfolio. For the most part, endowed foundations have only one real measure - payout. Did the funds get out the door, credibly and legitimately. Its a measure, but not one that requires anyone to actually accomplish much.
Have you eradicated cancer yet? Stopped global warming? Saved all the children? Ended domestic violence? Eliminated hunger? Produced more literate students?"
What are the best performance measures for foundations? And how do they translate to staff, board, and organizational practice?