Data Point: Developing Shared Measurement Systems

The use and management of data stands at the core of the work undertaken by the Center for Effective Philanthropy. The set of survey tools CEP has developed as well as field-wide research builds comparative data drawn from key constituent groups—grantees, donors, staff members and others—providing insights that enable funders to better define, assess and improve their effectiveness.


This data point is drawn from a survey of the CEOs of 173 U.S. foundations with annual grantmaking of at least $5 million and focuses on the current status of performance assessment among larger foundations. The survey was conducted in January and February 2011.

Our survey focused on assessing individual foundation performance. However, because foundations are typically working as one of many actors seeking to achieve shared goals, there has been significant interest in the development of shared measures.

The majority of CEOs report their foundations are already using, or have considered using, shared measurement systems:

» 26 percent said they are using coordinated measurement systems with other funders.

» 23 percent said they are considering using such measurement systems.

» 10 percent said they considered such systems but decided not to use them.

In addition, 36 percent of CEOs cited the tracking of data collected by other organizations as a source of information for assessing programmatic performance.

Readers of this blog post are invited to respond. What has your experience been with shared measurement systems?


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To read about current foundation CEOs’ attitudes toward assessment and what foundations are doing to understand their performance, see the report, The State of Foundation Performance Assessment: A Survey of Foundation CEOs written by Ellie Buteau, Ph.D. and Phil Buchanan and published by the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Ellie Buteau is Vice President – Research at the Center for Effective Philanthropy.



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