Survey: Foundations Often Rely on Anecdotes to Assess Impact
A survey conducted by The Center for Effective Philanthropy found that 78% of foundation officials think their organization is effective in creating impact, but only 8% could describe the specific types of information leading them to believe that they are likely to achieve at least some of their goals.
According to this survey of foundation leaders and staffers, about a fourth of respondents (26%) said that they use indicators, metrics, or other tools to assess all of their strategies; 39% said they use these methods to assess some of their strategies.
The three key challenges that foundations face in assessing strategies to achieve their goals are [excerpted from article]:
- Many of the outcomes they are working toward are extremely difficult to quantify; results are not easily aggregated across different programs; and, given many potential forces affecting the complex problems foundations often seek to address, a causal connection between foundation efforts and progress can be difficult to demonstrate.
- Given the significant technical challenges in foundation performance assessment, adequate resources are required, but some program officers said they do not have time to devote to the process while others said they are unable to engage in assessment because it is not valued by other key players in their organization.
- Program staff also cite a lack of skill, time, or knowledge on the part of the grantees they fund to be able to collect the data the foundation needs to assess its performance.