July 2014 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Welcome to the PerformWell Newsletter

A Flourishing Performance Landscape
By Mary K. Winkler, Urban Institute


In the roughly two years that have passed since the launch of PerformWell in March 2012, the performance management landscape has expanded to embrace a number of important new programs and initiatives. This article briefly describes several notable forums helping to advance the performance management dialogue and state of the information infrastructure around measurement and impact.

 

Markets for Good, launched in October 2012, is a joint effort by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Liquidnet (and earlier the Hewlett Foundation) to “improve the system for the generating, sharing, and acting upon data and information in the social sector”. Markets for Good is a forum for sharing innovative ideas, best practices, and diverse points of view for helping the social sector make better decisions and in support of a “dynamic culture of continuous learning and development.” Markets for Good officially kicked off its second phase last month.

 

In summer of 2013, the article “Can Government Play Moneyball?” by John Bridgeland and Peter Orzag, challenged the government and nonprofit sectors to make greater investments in understanding “what works” and in pursuing a more rigorous approach to evidence and impact than is commonplace for many nonprofits, and even government agencies. Taken in the appropriate context, the message is important, as few would deny that in an era of increasingly scarce resources, government has a responsibility to be a catalyst for evidence-based solutions and to drive resources in the most responsible way possible. America Achieves, through the Results for America Initiative, developed an agenda that calls for a federal evidence and evaluation framework, an increase in the use of evidence in all federal formula and competitive programs, the creation of a federal “what works” clearinghouse, and more accessible, user-friendly, publicly-available data.

 

In December 2013, Leap of Reason and PerformWell partnered to host a first-ever national conference on performance management – After the Leap. Themes from this conference have been repeated in many circles, including the recent Social Impact Exchange (SIE) conference which included a panel on how funders can support the capacity of nonprofits. Although the SIE conference (now in its fifth year) is generally geared toward nonprofits and funders interested in scaling social impact, many participants acknowledge that performance and evaluation strategies and practice evolve along a continuum of practice – a message echoed by Nancy Roob at the ATL conference and more recently in her blog post in the Stanford Social Innovation Review series on the “Value of Strategic Planning and Evaluation”.

 

And not to be left out, foundations are now likely to face increasing scrutiny around investment choices, thanks to a recent entrant to the field – Philamplify – designed by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Philamplify, a new website launched in May, is described by the Washington Post as “Yelp for the philanthropy sector”. What distinguishes Philamplify from other efforts to hold foundations accountable, is that reviews are conducted independently and with or without the consent of foundations. The goal is to grow the number of foundation assessments from three to one hundred of the largest foundations in the U.S.

 

These resources and initiatives are indicative of growing attention and a sense of urgency around issues of measurement and evaluation for the nonprofit, government, and philanthropic sectors – one likely not to diminish any time soon.

 

 


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New & Noteworthy

 

Trauma-Informed Care Organizational Self-Assessment and Webinar
We recently added to PerformWell three versions of an organizational self-assessment of trauma-informed care. Meet practitioners who have used it and one of the authors, Kathleen Guarino from the National Center on Family Homelessness at the American Institutes for Research, in our July 24 webinar: How Trauma-Informed is Your Organization? Assessing and Improving Organizational Performance

 

New Financial Capability Content and Webinar
In May, we added financial capability content to PerformWell. Join content developer Saunji Fyffe from the Urban Institute for an overview of the content and how to use it on August 7: Financial Capability: Measuring Progress and Managing Performance

 

Recent Webinars
If you missed any of our recent webinars, the recordings are available on the PerformWell website. Our March webinar was on new content added by ChildTrends: Foster Care Outcomes: New Tools in PerformWell. In May, workforce development content developer Marty Miles was our guide in Tools for Managing to Better Workforce Results: A Tour of PerformWell.

 

 


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Performance Management in Practice

 

Making Sure We Make a Difference

 

Since 1998, the National Peer to Peer (NPtP) ROMA Training and Certification Project has trained 600 trainers on Results-Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA). We asked Director Barbara J. Mooney about her perspective on the past, present and future of performance management in community action agencies.

 

How has thinking about performance management changed in the field since the National Peer to Peer (NPtP) ROMA Training and Certification Project was started in 1998?
We’re not the only ones interested in performance management anymore, as we can see from PerformWell and other initiatives. Now, there is the feeling that everyone is, and that we need to manage organizational performance to make change in communities.

 

What has driven the interest in learning about performance management over the years?
In 1998, recipients of Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) from the Office of Community Service (OCS) were mandated to implement a performance-based management system, and the Results-Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) system was the network's response. Agencies receiving CSBG federal funding had to move from talking about the services they provided to talking about the results they generated.

 

The Community Action Association of Pennsylvania developed a peer-to-peer training network to introduce local agencies to ROMA, and that has since become a national network. Many come to the training program because they want to improve required reporting to OCS but soon find that ROMA is a complete management system (not just about reporting). Once they understand the use of data, the immediate next concern is to make sure the reports show what they are doing produces positive change. Agencies want to improve results, and they need to improve internal systems to do that.

 

Where do you see the field going?
I am excited about the new OCS accountability and performance management strategies, including State and Federal Accountability Measures developed by the Urban Institute. The Organizational Standards Center of Excellence at the Community Action Partnership is working to strengthen community action agencies’ capacity to address poverty by assuring agencies are well run. The Organizational Standards include the use of ROMA principles. And the ROMA Next Generation Center for Excellence at the National Association for State Community Service Programs is developing a new approach to measuring impact using ROMA principles. It includes the development of a Theory of Change for the network, informed by David Hunter’s Working Hard and Working Well.

 

As OCS moves to implement these new accountability and performance management strategies, it can only push the field further in the right direction.

 

 

 


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The Toolbox

 

A Trauma-Informed Care Organizational Curriculum

 

The three versions of an organizational self-assessment of trauma-informed care, newly added to PerformWell, are each much more than an assessment. They constitute an entire curriculum, developed by experts at the National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research. In addition to background information on trauma-informed care and a Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment, each toolkit includes a How-To Manual for beginning the change process at an agency:

 

 

Programs can use these toolkits to evaluate the extent to which they are trauma-informed, identify areas for organizational growth, and make practical changes. While the toolkits are designed for specific populations, the majority of practices in them are universally applicable, which makes them easily adaptable to agencies serving different populations.

 

Don’t miss our July webinar with practitioners who have used the toolkits and Kathleen Guarino, one of the authors of this curriculum and Director of Training at the National Center on Family Homelessness: How Trauma-Informed is Your Organization? Assessing and Improving Organizational Performance

 

 

 


 

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What We're Reading

 

The Collective Impact Forum has released a Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact, a three-part report that discusses “practical guidance on how to plan for and implement evaluations of collective impact initiatives.”

 

The Obama Administration is proposing a new rating system for universities, in an attempt to incentivize colleges to hold down costs and broaden access to a more diverse student population. But like any evaluation mechanism, its success requires metrics aligned to the needs of the target population and adequate feedback loops.

 

Meanwhile, the National Committee on Responsible Philanthropy is launching Philamplify, a new website that combines crowdsourcing with expert evaluations to gather intelligence on the activities and effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. An article in The Atlantic explores its potential impact.

 

An article in Stanford Social Innovation Review offers Five Things All Nonprofits Should Know about leadership development. It’s very worthwhile, but only if done right.

 

Also in SSIR, Nancy Roob of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation champions “The Value of Rigorous Evaluation” as part of a dynamic and ongoing process to improve performance and program effectiveness from within.

 

How can funders better invest in talented people – arguably the most important drivers of social sector success? Rusty Morgan Stahl of Talent Philanthropy explores the issue in a recent Foundation Review article.

 


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Advisory Board

 

Amanda Broun, Independent Sector| James Firman, National Council of Aging

Irv Katz, National Human Service Assembly | Mike Lawson, Performance Management Consultant

Jeff Mason, Alliance for Effective Social Investing | Jon Pratt, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Cynthia Strauss, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund | Nick Torres, Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania

Fay Twersky, Hewlett Foundation | Jane Wales, Global Philanthropy Forum

 

Executive Committee Contacts

 

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