Reclaiming Measurement in the Human Services
|June 7, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Evaluation, Management, Program Model||
Inputs, outcomes, program evaluation, best-practices, the gold-standard – our familiarity with these terms speaks to how ingrained measurement has become in the daily operations of nonprofits, especially for human and social service organizations. Program and other service data is used to drive decision-making and report performance to external stakeholders – especially funders – but the collecting, recording, analyzing and making use of it can easily become an infernal nightmare as described in the post Performance Measurement in Human Services: From Challenge to Opportunity by Matthew Forti at the Bridgespan Group web page.
What is a nonprofit director to do when multiple, often varied (or worse, duplicated), accountability measures lead to inefficient use of time (extensive data collection), start eating up chunks of the budget (temporary hires to catch up on a backlog of data entry and/or accuracy issues) and otherwise draw the focus away from the organization’s programming, service delivery and mission? Well, for starters, don’t let measurement own you – you must reclaim measurement. Revisit, and if necessary, revise its purpose, methods and role in your nonprofit. Mr. Forti offers several starting points for your journey toward streamlining and improving performance measurement (including a link to a white paper on measurement), all appropriate for nonprofits of any size.
Metrics, databases and reporting requirements won’t disappear, and sometimes, with some funders, they may not even make sense. That said, measurement will improve your services and your bottom line when used intelligently, proactively and consistently by leaders who recognize its value. Set the tone for your team. Make measurement work for you – not the other way around.