“What Gets Measured Gets Done”

The debate about the practice and value of strategic planning and evaluation in the philanthropic sector is robust. Critics ask whether strategic philanthropy that attempts to predict outcomes is effective for solving complex social problems, and whether such approaches limit flexibility and stifle innovation. Last summer, John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Patty Russell argued that while we can apply strategic philanthropy to both simple and complex problems, using a more emergent approach that allows for regular modification of strategy might work better for complex problems. On the other hand, supporters feel that when crafted well, a predictive strategy that is tied to specific outcomes allows for evolution; Phil Buchanan argued precisely this point last year when debunking myths related to foundation strategy. ”

Read more here.

“If You Want to Understand Your Impact, Make Sure You Help Your Grantees Evaluate Their Work”

“Nonprofit, mission-driven organizations overwhelmingly want to assess their impact — and, generally, they put effort into doing so. The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s recent report, Assessing to Achieve High Performance, underscores the importance nonprofits place on performance assessment; almost all nonprofits surveyed in the study report collecting information to do so. The trouble is, most nonprofits struggle to collect the right information and use it effectively. In addition, these organizations cannot afford to build internal capacity or hire outside experts to conduct strong evaluations. This is where foundations can and should be helpful.”

Read more here.