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Longfield Family Foundation

Creating Grantee Program Performance Standards

Partner

Longfield Family Foundation

Project

Creating Grantee Program Performance Standards

Question

How can we establish a system of standardized assessments so nonprofits can increase their impact and funders can make strategic investments in partnership with them?

Summary

Challenge

Root Cause’s partnership with the Longfield Family Foundation is based on our shared belief that standardized, accessible information related to program performance is critical – both for nonprofits, so they have a stronger understanding of their relative performance in the field; and for funders, to guide their investment decisions. Funders rely on 990s to understand financial performance, and there should be a standardized equivalent for program performance.

Project Overview

With funding from the Longfield Family Foundation, Root Cause conducted a pilot to begin to understand how to implement our independent analysis of nonprofit programs on a larger scale. Root Cause partnered with the State Street Foundation to offer independent analysis to a cohort of its youth career development-focused grantees. Through the pilot, Root Cause analyzed the programs on standardized indicators and benchmarked them against their peers to provide them with a better understanding of their performance as it relates to other organizations in the field. Root Cause analysts asked for feedback throughout the process to learn what the grantees valued from this process as well as what could be improved or added.

Goals & Results

The participating programs found the in-depth analysis, delivered in a report that benchmarked them on over 100 indicators, to be very valuable at a program, leadership, and board level. Beyond the analysis, many of the programs expressed their interest for deeper peer-to-peer learning as well as access to resources and tools to help them to take action on the recommendations provided in the analysis.

Based on the success of the pilot and the feedback, Root Cause launched the Peer Performance Exchange (PPE) in March 2013, which brings together nonprofits that are committed to improving their programs and provides them with a program analysis report that includes recommendations for action, a summary report to share their data with funders and other stakeholders, peer-to-peer convenings to learn from one another, and access to a range of web-based tools and resources.

Root Cause launched exchanges in the areas of Youth Career Development and College Access and Success. A cohort of 9 Youth Career Development organizations and 15 College Access and Success organizations participated in the Peer Performance Exchange. The Exchanges included nonprofits across the United States.  Root Cause believes the Exchanges provides a path to systemic change for both nonprofits to better understand and act on areas for improvement, and funders to have a greater level of data to inform giving.

About the Partner

Longfield Family Foundation

The Longfield Family Foundation is committed to improving Boston Public Schools. By investing in innovative and effective programs and schools, the Foundation aims to enhance the educational opportunities of children in lasting and replicable ways.

The Foundation’s objectives include:

  • Support community-based schools that demonstrate that children from all backgrounds can achieve high standards;
  • Support programs and organizations that aim to enhance public understanding of the need to reevaluate our current education systems;
  • Enhance the capacity of partner schools to make school improvements via financial support and direct partnerships with school staff;
  • Invest in innovative methods of educating students and promote the replication of successful models;
  • Support the development of academic outcomes that promote student learning.

Learn more at longfieldfoundation.org.