July 2012 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Welcome To The Inaugural PerformWell Newsletter

Navigating to Success
by Jeff Mason, PerformWell board member


The good news: The nonprofit sector appears to be going through a much needed metamorphosis. There seems to be growing interest in “high-performing” nonprofits. These nonprofits are those that are most likely to generate social value. These organizations establish measurable goals, they identify key milestones or indicators that they can use to measure their progress towards their goals, they diligently collect data that relates their efforts to their desired outcomes, and then they use this data to assess what is working and what is not working. With this knowledge, high-performers make ongoing adjustments to their efforts and through this process of continuous improvement they eventually navigate their way to success.


As funder interest in high-performers grows and more dollars flow to those with high-performing characteristics, then more nonprofits will strive to be high-performers. This is all good. The problem however is that becoming a high-performer isn’t easy. And, since the vast majority of nonprofits are small with very limited resources the only way that they can make this transformation is with help – this is where PerformWell comes in.


PerformWell is a collaborative effort initiated by Urban Institute, Child Trends, and Social Solutions. Its intent is to help human service organizations to become high-performing by providing the essential information an organization needs to manage their performance (target population, outcomes, indicators, assessments and quality guidelines).


PerformWell is a unique web resource in that it combines “expert crafted” information with front-line service delivery expertise to provide site visitors with information that is evidence-based and useful in real world situations. In addition, PerformWell intends to provide advice on how to interpret the information you gather from the survey and assessments PerformWell provides so that you can make appropriate midcourse corrections to improve the effectiveness of your programs.


To do good an organization must have focus and discipline. This however is difficult in today’s funding environment. With multiple funders an organization often finds that they have to adhere to multiple agendas. There is a vision that one day PerformWell will not only be “the” resource where organizations delivering human services go for advice, best practices, and tools but also that it can help to facilitate a more strategic discussion between funder and grantee about reasonable and appropriate expectations for a specific type of program.


Human service organizations address some of the world’s most pressing issues. To move the needle on these issues we simply must do better. PerformWell fills a void that can help all organizations within the sector – large and small – to do better.

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New & Noteworthy

Upcoming Webinar, August 14, 2012 3-4PM EST
Join Isaac Castillo from Child Trends and Anisha Chablani from Roca for an engaging overview of the performance management continuum, the steps to successful use of data for program improvement, and how PerformWell can be helpful in numerous ways in this process. Click here for information on the webinar, Using What You Measure: An Introduction to Performance Management.


Missed the Last Webinar?

Learn about the new resources and tools available on PerformWell for improving sex education programs and hear how Metro Teen AIDS incorporates performance management into practice. Click here for the archived webinar.


PerformWell Launch Webinar
PerformWell launched on March 6, 2012. Click here for the archived webinar and demo.

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The Toolbox

Did you know there are 36 assessment tools in PerformWell that are suitable for use with children of elementary school age and that they have been downloaded almost 2,000 times?


These tools can be used to measure a variety of indicators including classroom work habits, bullying, literacy, self-esteem, belonging, self-control, empathy, physical activity, diet/nutrition, and mentoring.


If you want to search for tools for a specific population, go to the Advanced Search link found on the right-hand side of the screen just above the graphic on PerformWell’s home page. Scroll about three-quarters of the way down the page until you see “Population” on the left-hand side. Search populations include various ages and grade levels of children and youth, stages of adulthood, parental status, pregnancy status, employers, and teachers. We are continuing to add more and more tools within these categories so keep checking back for more additions.


When you find a tool you might be interested in, click on the link to find out more about the tool, how to use it, and what it is designed to measure. For example, perhaps you are interested in understanding the extent to which the elementary students you are working with demonstrate concern for others. Click on Concern for Others – Civic Measurement Models. From here, you can download the PDF of the tool, obtain information about how to score the tool, and link to additional tools that measure the same “Indicator” (in this case “empathy”).

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Performance Management in Practice

Future issues of the PerformWell newsletter will feature practitioners’ perspectives in this section and how they are using performance management in their daily operations. This time, we would like to share some numbers on how you and others have been using PerformWell over the last few months (March 6-July 9, 2012):


Total visits: 17,256
Total unique visitors: 13,245
Percentage of return visits: 23%
Visits from: 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 127 countries
Number of PDF downloads of assessments: 6,181


How are you using PerformWell? Do you have any measures that should be included or any other suggestions? We want to hear from you. Let us know at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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What We're Reading

Nonprofits’ greatest sources of funding, foundations and governments, have become increasingly interested in what works and the evidence base. PerformWell can help nonprofits better measure outcomes, track success, and document their results to address these expectations. We’ve highlighted a few developments around the topic below:


Charting Impact
“For each nonprofit or foundation, Charting Impact encourages strategic thinking about how it will achieve its goals. Responding to the five questions creates a unique report that shares concise, detailed information about plans and progress with key stakeholders, including the public.” Independent Sector shared this resource. You can learn more about it by following the link here.


The Dawn of the Evidence-Based Budget by David Bornstein (May 30, 2012)
“On May 18, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum that couldn’t be more critical to restoring public trust in government.”
Read more.


Use of Evidence and Evaluation in the 2014 Budget
Read the memo from OMB to all federal agencies, issued May 18, 2012, here.


Social Impact Analytics Initiative: A Partnership between the Center for High Impact Philanthropy and the Wharton Program for Social Impact (February 2, 2012)
“People in the business of making money have well-worn and universally understood indicators for marking progress and ultimately, success. People in the business of creating social change—philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs—also need indicators to answer questions of how well they are accomplishing their goals.” Read more.

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What People Are Saying

Matthew Forti, Worth a Look: PerformWell Performance Management Resourc, Stanford Social Innovation Review
“Overall, I believe PerformWell is the most exciting new entrant to the measurement field in years. It makes it considerably easier to tackle the challenging but crucial task of understanding what and how to measure. The site was designed for nonprofit practitioners and largely avoids the off-putting measurement jargon found on most of its peers’ sites.”


Nicole Wallace, New Site Aids Evaluation Process to Increase Impact, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
“The site aims to make the management of performance evaluation easier by employing useful tools, in many cases developed by scholars, that until now have not been easily available.”


James D’Ambrosio, New website provides human service professionals tools to manage, measure program performance
“PerformWell emphasizes using data to make decisions during program operation and upon completion, as opposed to long-term decision-making, an important distinction”


Wendy Wehr, Performance Measurement: No more excuses, Minnesota Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Potluck
“So throw out your notions about monitoring and oversight. Instead, think about PerformWell as a resource to build nonprofit capacity and effectiveness. It provides practical knowledge — what to measure and how to measure it — that human service professionals can use to manage their day-to-day performance.”


Has your organization or association written something about PerformWell? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advisory Board


Diana Aviv, Independent Sector | Viki Betancourt, World Bank

James Firman, National Council of Aging | David Hunter, Hunter Consulting

Irv Katz, National Human Service Assembly | Mike Lawson, Performance Management Consultant

Jeff Mason, Alliance for Effective Social Investin | Jon Pratt, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Cynthia Strauss, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund | Nick Torres, Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania

Fay Twersky, Hewlett Foundation | Jane Wales, Global Philanthropy Forum


Executive Committee Contacts


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