In our 2012 report Room for Improvement, we explored the grantee perspective on foundations’ support of nonprofit performance assessment. Almost half of nonprofit leaders—48 percent—reported that there is not much consistency across the types of information different foundation funders seek from them. This finding is particularly noteworthy as 75 percent of the nonprofits in this research have more than four different foundation funders, and half have more than eight.
Nonprofit leaders commented on the burden that different requirements, definitions, and metrics from different foundations place on their organizations.
One nonprofit leader pointed to the creation of standard measures as a way that funders could relieve this burden. The respondent said, “If foundations can come to an understanding and develop standardized measures of success, the nonprofit community can focus on the actions that will lead to success.” Smaller, yet valuable, steps that funders could take would be to consider whether, and how, they will use all of the information they require from grantees, and ask grantees what information they are already collecting for their other funders or for their own organization’s use.
Ellie Buteau is Vice President of Research at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. You can find her on Twitter @EButeau_CEP.