Nonprofits are streamlining operations to maximize results while reducing costs. Can this approach be applied to assessing nonprofit outcomes?
FSG Social Impact Advisors has just released the report Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact, which explores methods for evaluating performance and outcomes across multiple organizations. Some systems can help the sector build the knowledge base necessary to tackle complicated issues more efficiently and effectively at the field level. Authors Mark Kramer, Marcie Parkhurst, and Lalitha Vaidyanathan note in the report:
“Adaptive Learning Systems also help to align organizational strategies and goals among the dozens or hundreds of organizations that influence an issue, thereby building the collective capacity of the entire nonprofit system. This is essential to solving complex social problems. Our failing public education system, for example, cannot be fixed only by improving early childhood school readiness, nor by targeting afterschool programs in middle school, nor by boosting college preparation efforts in high school. Any lasting solution must address the entire educational continuum.
Within and across this continuum, the ways in which different organizations coordinate and support each other’s work profoundly influence the effectiveness of the system as a whole. If early childhood programs aren’t aligned with kindergarten requirements, tutoring programs have no access to classroom materials or student test scores, and college preparation programs are not linked to local universities, the effectiveness of each program suffers. Even at a single point on the continuum, the lack of consistency across dozens of tutoring programs in a given city undercuts their success as students move among them from year to year.” (p. 16).
The research findings are available at the FSG Social Impact Advisors web site.
Tip: Turn to the appendix to learn more about shared measurement platforms, comparative performance systems, and adaptive learning systems in use today (includes four in-depth case studies).