urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Governing

town meetingUrban 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.

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Using Behavioral Economics to Inform the Integration of Human Services and Health Programs under the Affordable Care Act (Research Report)
Fredric Blavin, Stan Dorn, Jay Dev

Behavioral economics, which analyzes how behavior sometimes departs from the rational calculation of self-interest, can help Medicaid programs use targeted enrollment strategies more effectively by eliminating apparently modest procedural requirements, which can greatly reduce participation levels. It can also help health coverage applicants receive SNAP, even though demonstrating eligibility for health subsidies and choosing a health plan can tax many consumers' cognitive resources, making it hard to process information about SNAP. For example, health applicants could be given the option to have the state's food agency contact them later to complete a SNAP application by phone.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Opportunities under the Affordable Care Act for Human Services Programs to Modernize Eligibility Systems and Expedite Eligibility Determination (Research Report)
Stan Dorn, Rebecca Peters

Human services programs can benefit from 90 percent federal funding for information technology investments that are complete by the end of 2015 and that: 1) build a service that helps both Medicaid and human services; or 2) build an interface that helps Medicaid use human services records to verify eligibility or "fast track" enrollment. Once the Affordable Care Act is fully phased in, Medicaid will be the country's most widely-used need-based program. Human services programs can use Medicaid records to streamline eligibility determination, despite limits on information sharing and differences between Medicaid and human services program rules, including household definitions.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

The State of Nonprofit Governance (Research Report)
Amy Blackwood, Nathan Dietz, Thomas H. Pollak

This report provides a snapshot of nonprofit governance policies and practices among operating public charities. Using IRS Form 990 data, we find that many public charities have good governance policies and practices in place. In 2010, more than 60 percent of organizations had a conflict of interest policy, an independent audit and a compensation review and approval process for their chief executive. We also find that organizational characteristics such as size, type of organization, government funding, age, board size and board independence all appear related to whether or not a public charity chooses to adopt these recommended practices.

Posted to Web: September 11, 2014Publication Date: September 11, 2014

Partner's Perspective: NNIP and Open Data in Baltimore (Research Report)
Eric Burnstein, Seema Iyer

The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance—Jacob France Institute (BNIA-JFI) housed at the University of Baltimore is a key player in Baltimore’s open data community. BNIA-JFI connects the city government, civil society, and the tech community through hackathons and other events to create products like baltimorevacants.org, an online mapping tool that pinpoints vacant buildings and links them to neighborhood-level demographic indicators. The increasing number of people and organizations who want BNIA-JFI to provide open data solidifies BNIA-JFI’s role in the conversation on data-driven decisionmaking for neighborhoods.

Posted to Web: September 03, 2014Publication Date: September 03, 2014

Starting Small and Thinking Long-Term: Q&A with Performance Measurement and Evaluation Professionals (Research Brief)
Sarah Gillespie

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.

Posted to Web: August 25, 2014Publication Date: August 25, 2014

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