Friday, April 4, 2008

On performance metrics in the philantrhopy sector

Dear Colleagues

I attended the OnPhilanthropy Summit in New York last month ... Subsequently I wrote this note to one of the organizers in an attempt to alert to the critical need for the philantrhopy sector to improve its metrics about performance.
Dear Friend (name supressed)

The OnPhilantrhopy Summit was a great day ... and I learned a lot.

But one of the things I learned ... or at any rate, had confirmed ... was that there is an information crisis that extents across almost all sectors of the global society.

It was fun ... it was interesting ... to hear the (very good) speakers and panelists, and at the same time to realise that all the communication was driven by anecdote and almost nothing on "performance" that was really supportable by auditable verifiable information.

And then to realise that even if people wanted to use auditable verifiable information about performance ... the methodology for doing this cost effectively has never been deployed ... and relying on M&E is just too little and too late.

The day gave me lots to think about ... and has helped to motivate me to get my work on this as far advanced as I possibly can as fast as I can, including my attempt to write the definitive book on Social Benefit Accountancy! ... and to push as hard as I can to get various modules deployed ahead of this so that initiatives like malaria can be the subject of high quality performance metrics.


Peter Burgess
The sad thing about the lack of performance metrics is that the (large number of) good organizations do not get the attention they deserve, and the (rather few) poor organizations sometimes get much more attention and give philanthropy a bad name.

Good performance metrics would also help busy donors who support good things to use their resources even more effectively. It is great that the amount of funds being mobilized has grown so much ... but it would be even better it the use of these funds was really being optimized.

The challenge is substantial ... but the tools at our disposal are now quite amazing and Tr-Ac-Net intends that there will be progress.


Peter Burgess