October 2013 Newsletter

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Welcome to the PerformWell Newsletter

Forget the Damned Excuses. Just Do It!
By Mario Morino, Co-founder & Chairman, Venture Philanthropy Partners, Morino Institute


I often hear people pooh-poohing conferences. In this age of instant 140-character communication, I suppose conferences feel “old school.”


At age 70, I suppose I am, by definition, old school. But let me explain why I’m ginned up for PerformWell’s After the Leap conference on December 3 and 4.


PerformWell has assembled the highest concentration of “just do it” leaders I’ve ever seen in one gathering. I’m talking about no-excuses social sector leaders who would walk through walls for the people they’ve dedicated their lives to serving. Not just those who put in long hours and have huge hearts. I’m talking about leaders driven to ensure that all the hours and heart are adding up to lasting life change for their clients, patients, and students.


These are the leaders who not only take on the challenge of building a culture of performance; they do it for all the right reasons. It’s not to prove to funders that what they’re doing is working. It’s so they can determine—for themselves!—what’s working, what’s not, and how to keep getting better over time.


There are so many excellent excuses less-than-committed leaders can use. “My funders won’t pay for it.” “My board isn’t, well, on board.” “You can’t reduce our work down to a few simplistic metrics.” “Performance management is a luxury we can’t afford in these hard times.”


After the Leap is bringing together leaders who banish the excuses and make it a matter of necessity and pride to learn and improve. They moved forward whether or not their funders “get it” and pay for it. They are motivated from within—not by any “stakeholders”—to be the best they can be. They have to because they know if they don’t keep pushing to get better, too many lives will still be lost. For these leaders, the numbers and rigor are about lives.


If you want a great example of the “just do it” mentality, take a look in this issue at the interview Ingvild Bjornvold did with Matt Huckabay, the Executive Director of the Center for Violence-Free Relationships.


Matt came to the tough conclusion that his efforts to reduce domestic violence were not leading to the kind of outcomes they should have. “We were spending a tremendous amount of resources on maintaining a status quo; people were continuing to have violent relationships but with different partners.” Once he came to this realization, he knew his organization had to change its curriculum and its approach. His funders offered some support for technology solutions. But the harder part—the organizational and cultural change—came from within. Matt will be the first to tell you that he hasn’t figured it all out. But as he puts it, “Now, we have data to show us whether we veer off course, and if we do, we will get back on track.”


Matt will be in good company at the conference. He’ll have a chance to exchange ideas with those who are addressing the same challenges he is. And he’ll meet and interact with many who are far along in the performance journey—such as Daniel Cardinali, Sam Cobbs, Cynthia Figueroa, Dr. Thomas Jenkins, Bill McCarthy, and Mindy Tarlow. No disrespect to Twitter only a month before its big IPO, but no social media application can replace this in-person opportunity for learning and growth.




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Performance Management in Practice


We Say No to Some Clients to Serve Others Better

Matt Huckabay, Executive Director at the Center for Violence-Free Relationships, speaks with Ingvild Bjornvold as he gears up to showcase his organization’s work along with 19 others at the After the Leap conference in December.


Ingvild: Why did you decide to pursue a path toward performance management?


Matt: There were two catalysts for us. The first was seeing that we were spending a tremendous amount of resources on maintaining a status quo; people were continuing to have violent relationships but with different partners. And we started to see how our clients were creating the next generation of victims and perpetrators. The second catalyst was the realization that organizations who want to stay competitive need to be more accountable.


This is about how long you want to stay in business, providing services that people in the community need and benefit from.


Ingvild: Once you decided to go down this path, how difficult was it to find the resources to do it?


Matt: We got funding for performance management software, but we had to allocate funds from our general operating support to make sure we could invest the necessary staff time. Saying yes to performance management meant that we had to say no to other things. We decided to say no to clients coming in week after week without making progress. We started referring them to other services, and we continued to provide counseling only to those who were benefiting from it.


Ingvild: That must be controversial in the field of domestic violence?


Matt: Yes, the typical reaction is that it is cold and business-like. It’s hard for people to understand that we have to say no to some in order to say yes to others. I also think many are fearful that what they are doing isn’t having the impact they think it is. It’s a paradox – we are in this field, after all, to help people exit the cycle of violence!


Ingvild: How do you feel about where your organization is today?


Matt: We were actually doing some harm because we were ignorant, but we have learned and made meaningful changes.


We saw that the DA’s office was lax in filing charges, and cases were rejected at a high rate; people in the community didn’t feel it was going to benefit them to go through the legal process. After we did training with law enforcement, charges filed against perpetrators increased by 19%, and the number of our clients working with the justice system increased by 30%.


And our kids’ program has generated $88K in funding just because of the performance data we can show. This is allowing us to scale it up and serve many more children.


We still have a lot of work to do, but we are on the right track. Now, we have data to show us whether we veer off course, and if we do, we will get back on track.



We welcome your feedback and input as a part of the PerformWell community! Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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New & Noteworthy


Coming Soon: Foster Care and Financial Literacy Outcomes
It’s hard to believe, but PerformWell is now more than a year and a half old! The site continues to grow, having now attracted nearly 120,000 unique visitors, who in turn downloaded assessment tools more than 45,000 times. We currently have two new outcome areas in development, Foster Care and Financial Literacy. Outcomes, indicators and surveys/assessments will be available in early 2014.


Interested in partnering with PerformWell to develop an area important to you? Find out more here.


Upcoming Webinar: Expertise Exchange on Constituent Involvement
In our most recent webinar, we tried something new, an “Expertise Exchange” where people were able to ask questions of our panelists “on the air.” The opportunity to have this kind of an exchange was very well received, so our next webinar will be another Expertise Exchange: How to Involve People Served in Program Decision-making, and How to Know if it’s Successful. Join us on January 16 to discuss with David Bonbright, CEO of Keystone Accountability, and PerformWell’s own Teresa Derrick-Mills, Research Associate at the Urban Institute.


Click here to register for this event, which will take place on January 16, 3:00-4:30 ET.


Recent Webinars
Since you last heard from us, we’ve had several great webinars:

Missed these or any of our other events? You can always watch the archived webinars free on the PerformWell site.




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The Toolbox


Spotlight: Parenting Self-Efficacy

Effective parenting depends, to a great degree, on readiness. The knowledge, attitudes and perceptions individuals carry into parenthood play an important role in their confidence and capacity to be successful parents.


In PerformWell’s parenting skills content released in June, parenting self-efficacy is featured as one of the key indicators of readiness to parent. Perceived parenting self-efficacy (PPSE) refers to the beliefs or preconceived notions a parent has about their capabilities to execute the duties of parenting, whether on a day-to-day or more holistic basis. Parents with a high level of PPSE are more likely to be involved with their child’s education and feel like they can make a positive difference in their child’s life. As a result, self-efficacy is an important predictor and possible mediator of parenting competence and resulting child outcomes.


This indicator is associated with a downloadable tool in PerformWell, the Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale. Developed in Australia in 2008, this instrument is self-administered by parents of infants up to 12 months old, is easy to use, and leads to a simple overall score of 0-45. Scores of 39 or less indicate a low level of parental confidence and a higher risk of child abuse.


Have you used the Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale or any other tool?
Be sure to leave your review for others to see what you think. It's easy. When you are on the download page of any tool, scroll to the bottom, rate it from 1-5 stars, submit a review, or share it with a friend..

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What People Are Saying

Common Good Vermont, a statewide network of nonprofits, helped spread the word about the After the Leap conference:


“The PerformWell brain trust is putting the finishing polish on the conference. If you’re looking for insights into how you can cultivate a performance culture and want to learn from top thought leaders and practitioners in the field, consider attending.”


The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Nicole Wallace included PerformWell as one of five “Resources to Help Nonprofits Use Data.”


Mary Winkler and Jeremy Koulish wrote on the Urban Institute’s MetroTrends blog about PerformWell’s place in the movement toward data-driven analysis and more effective nonprofits.




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What We're Reading


A recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article by Srik Gopalakrishnan explored the key characteristics of “next generation evaluation”, as opposed to more traditional evaluation:


  • “Developmental evaluation, which offers more real-time, learning-oriented feedback and insights, as opposed to adhering to a fixed evaluation plan.
  • Shared measurement, where a group of organizations come together to co-determine outcomes and indicators, and to learn from each other.
  • Big data—examining the massive amounts of data that technology and social media are currently generating, and how we can glean insights from it.”


Also in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Denise Withers examined the effective use of Stories as Data.


Along these lines, Willa Seldon wrote in September on the Huffington Post Impact blog about the benefits of nonprofits engaging the people they serve in the performance management process.


In The Atlantic, John Bridgeland and Peter Orszag explored how the performance movement, which “Moneyball” brought to the forefront of the sports world and is now sweeping through the nonprofit sector, can be applied to government.


A podcast interview with Margery Turner of the Urban Institute, discussed her recent congressional testimony, “Evidence-Based Policymaking Requires a Portfolio of Tools.



We welcome your feedback and input as a part of the PerformWell community! Contact us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Advisory Board


Amanda Broun, Independent Sector| James Firman, National Council of Aging

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

Jeff Mason, Alliance for Effective Social Investing | 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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