Urban Institute researchers evaluate federal, state, and local government programs and policies. Early on, we pioneered performance-management techniques government agencies still use to evaluate and improve public services, from economic development to garbage collection. And now we're adapting those strategies for the nonprofit sector—at home and abroad. Read more.
Despite the importance of performance measurement to nonprofit effectiveness, the state of performance measurement among nonprofits varies widely, and resources to improve capacity are scarce. While learning communities are available to other professionals, very few networks exist for staff focused on performance measurement and evaluation. It’s often described as an isolating position, and staff just getting started in this field are eager for support and advice. We spoke with three nonprofit performance measurement staff who have been navigating their positions within the Washington DC, area for several years, to share lessons learned and tips for getting started and growing.
While substantial progress has been made in spreading performance measurement across the country and world, much of the information from performance measurement systems has been shallow. Modern technology and the considerable demand for information on progress in achieving the outcomes of public programs and policies are creating major opportunities for considerably improving the usefulness of performance information. This report provides a number of recommendations to help public and private service organizations take advantage of these opportunities, particularly for:(a) selecting appropriate performance indicators and data collection procedures; (b) analyzing and reporting the information; and (c) using the information to improve services.
Government's reliance on human service nonprofits to provide services has been increasing, expanding the ability of nonprofits to achieve their missions and the ability of government to serve its constituents. This brief summarizes results from human service nonprofits in the second national study of government contracts and grants. We compare results of human service organizations in the 2013 national survey of nonprofits to the results of the survey conducted in 2010. We examine how human service organizations have managed since the recession ended and how their relationships with governments have changed.
Adopting open data principles is difficult in cities undergoing economic hardship, but the benefits of doing so are great. In Detroit, Data Driven Detroit (D3), a local National Neighborhood Indicators partner, has worked to provide local data to the community free of charge. Though they have encountered institutional and cultural barriers, D3 has advanced their cause through partnership with local organizations and government. With new funding opportunities and new movement on open data by the city, D3 is making data meaningful and accessible, as well as advocating for open data and data-driven decisionmaking by community organizations and government.
In this testimony before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, Urban's Director of the Justice Policy Center, Nancy La Vigne, highlights the lessons learned from responsible prison reform in the states and discusses the federal prison system, its challenges and opportunities for reform. She also discusses the importance of both front- and back-end changes to yield meaningful and lasting reforms.