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Comparative Performance Systems

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Breakthrough 2: Comparative Performance Systems



Name & Description


Example Users



Cultural Data Project: A comprehensive, web-based data management system that includes standardized indicators and definitions, a reporting function, and web-based data storage. Also offers an online help desk.         


§      More than 50 funders and 2400 nonprofits in 5 states (active in PA, MD, CA, IL, MA; coming online soon in NY and OH)

§     Time in Development: 4 years (2001 – 2004)

§     Cost to Develop: $2.3M

§ Annual Cost to Users: Free (average cost of ~$400/group is paid by funders)


Pulse: A web-based data management system that enables portfolio managers and funders to track financial, operational, social, and environmental metrics. Data may be compared at the funder level (e.g., by Acumen on its investment portfolio) and Pulse can be used with IRIS (see below).

Will be available on salesforce.com

§     Has been beta-tested by more than 150 users to date

-    Acumen Fund (principle investor)

-    Rockefeller Foundation (Impact Investing program)

-    B Lab (principle investor)

-    Skoll Foundation

-    Root Capital

    -  W.K. Kellogg Foundation


§     Time in Development: About 3 years; expected to launch in 2009

§     Cost to Develop: $1.5M  

§   Annual Cost to Users: Pulse will soon be available on the salesforce.com AppExchange (first 10 licenses free for NGOs)


Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS): An effort to create a common framework for defining, tracking, and reporting the performance of impact investing capital, with the goal of being able to compare, aggregate, and benchmark performance metrics at the portfolio and sector levels.


§     Time in Development: 2007 – 2009

§     Cost to Develop: $500k-$1M in initial costs 

§  Annual Cost to Users: There is no cost to adopt IRIS standards or share data with other IRIS users


Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) Benchmarking Project: An effort to identify meaningful outcome benchmarks for the workforce development field and enable similar organizations to compare their job placement and retention outcomes. Also supports a national learning community, using data and participant experiences to identify effective program strategies.


 §   Participation open to workforce  development service providers serving individuals age 18+ in cohorts of 25 or more over a one-year period

§     Time in Development: About 3 years (in beta testing now)

§     Cost to Develop: $600K 

Annual Cost to Users: Free


Nonprofit Finance Fund

“Sustainable Enhancement Grant” (SEGUE) Program:  Helps nonprofits raise funds through private placement document that specifies metrics to be tracked going forward; all donors agree to accept the same data on progress in financial and social outcomes.

www.nonprofitfinancefund.org/details.php? autoID=120

§     Eligible nonprofits design capital campaigns of at least $5M

§  YearUp and VolunteerMatch are examples       

§      Each organization develops its own metrics in collaboration with NFF


DonorEdge: A community leadership process that results in an online nonprofit database of local nonprofits that provides donors with access to standardized financial, organizational, and programmatic performance data to determine effective nonprofits. 


§     Greater Kansas City Community Foundation

§     Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

§     The Columbus Foundation

§     Community Foundation of Central Florida

§     The Pittsburgh Foundation

§  The San Diego Foundation

§     Time in Development: ~3 years (refinements ongoing by current users)

§     Cost to Develop: $1M – $3M

§    Annual Cost to Users: Guidestar provides technology; Access is free to donors; each CF has subscription agreement


Robin Hood Foundation: Developed formulas to calculate: (1) increased future earnings of poor families served by grantees (from baseline); and (2) the cost/ benefit ratio for each funded program (step 1 divided by grant amount).


§ Robin Hood Foundation

§     Time in Development: 5 years

§     Cost to Develop: N/A – used existing staff resources over time

§ Annual Cost to Users: N/A – internal use only



Cal-PASS: A K-16 data-sharing platform that allows users (school districts, colleges, and others) to run queries and reports on student performance data using a secure website. Also provides technical assistance and supports

Professional Learning Councils for instructors in various disciplines.


§ More than 7200 elementary schools, high schools, community colleges, colleges and universities, from all California counties

§     Time in Development: ~2 years (continues to evolve)

§     Cost to Develop: ~$2M

§ Annual Cost to Users: Free (Cal-PASS is funded by the state and private funders


Community Foundation Insights: A centralized, web-based data resource for community foundations. Provides members with up-to-date, comparative benchmarking data on peer foundations’ finances and operating models. Offers more than 55 reports.


§More than 50 active member community foundations

§     Time in Development: ~2 years

§     Cost to Develop: ~$1M 

§ Annual Cost to Users: $200 – $8750 based on asset size


Assessment Tools from the Center for Effective Philanthropy: Provides foundations with comparable performance data on key dimensions, relative to peer foundations. Assessment tools include the Grantee Perception Report (GPR), Operational Benchmarking Report, and others.



§     More than 150 foundations have completed GPRs to date, including:

-    William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

-    Barr Foundation

    - The Kresge Foundation

§     Time in Development: ~3 years

§     Cost to Develop: ~$1M 

§ Cost per GPR: $10K – $50K












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