But Does it Work? How Best to Assess Program Performance Stanford Social Innovation Review

More than 20 years ago, when I was running a community organization that provided critical services to homeless youth, our foundation funders never asked for data on outcomes. Our public funders, meanwhile, felt satisfied with a reporting system that largely consisted of my caseworkers and me running up and down the hallway, paper and pencil in hand, polling each other and pulling files from various drawers to report on the number of youths we served that month. No one discussed the difference between how many kids you served and how many kids’ lives you actually changed. Reflecting upon the approach we applied at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, this piece outlines how we might approach levels of performance and impact capacity within organizations.

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