“Performance measurement”, “outcomes” and “innovation” are all popular buzzwords used by funders looking to support programs that are innovative but also tested, analyzed and otherwise proven. Earlier this year, the John Hopkins University Center for Civil Policy Studies conducted a survey to examine use of innovative programs and strategies, program evaluation and the challenges nonprofits face in balancing both. The project sampled nonprofits nationwide from the areas of child and family services, community development, economic development, the arts and elderly services.
The brief, entitled, Nonprofits, Innovation and Performance Measurement: Separating Fact from Fiction, discusses their findings, including:
- Over 80% of respondents implemented a minimum of one innovation in the past 5 years.
- Over 66% reported at least one innovation that they had wanted to implement but couldn’t in the past 2 years.
- The majority (85%) conducted measurement of effectiveness of at least some of their services annually while 66% did so for over half their programs.
Challenges to being both innovative and evidence-based included use of complex, time-consuming and often unclear measurement tools and little to no funding for effectiveness measurement and evaluation.