Federal Government to Small and Mid-sized Nonprofits: If You Ain’t Got a Comprehensive Performance Management System, You Got Nothing!

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On March 30, 2010 the Corporation for National and Community Service posted its Notice of Federal Funds Availability for the $1 million Nonprofit Capacity Building Program to work with small and midsize nonprofits in communities facing resource hardship challenges. The notice came out six weeks before the May 18 final application deadline, with a 1:1 matching requirement of a minimum of $200,000.

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The Notice declares that: “Research suggests that an established framework of performance management is the pre-requisite and predictor of success on other aspects of nonprofit health such as financial planning and sustainability.”

For this reason the Corporation decided that for the purposes of this competition, there is only one key indicator for improvement—the ability of the nonprofit organization to fully implement a comprehensive performance management system.

What do they mean by a comprehensive performance management system?

It means that a small and midsize organization:

  1. Has written plans for each service delivery area including goals, objectives, target clients and projected outcomes;
  2. Has identified specific indicators to measure outcomes of service delivery;
  3. Has identified data sources and data collection procedures for each indicator;
  4. Has technology systems in place to track activities and collect data against indicators;
  5. Collects data against indicators according to data collection procedures;
  6. Analyzes data collected and summarizes results;
  7. Can demonstrate improvement based on indicators measured;
  8. Has a performance appraisal process where individual performance is tied to organizational performance, formally documented, and feedback delivered;
  9. Uses data to improve service delivery, reward staff performance, and inform management decisions; and
  10. Regularly informs stakeholders and funders of the impact they are having in the community.

Definition of Small and Midsize Nonprofits:

For the purposes of this Notice, criteria for determining a small or midsize nonprofit include organizations that have budgets of less than $5 million in total assets. (An odd definition—assets and budgets are two very different things!)

So is this a plan to make nonprofits better organized or just more like government?  We’d like to get your thoughts!

  • Ken

    I’d predict no organization with a budget less than $100,000 will obtain a grant except for “political” purposes. A small organization can’t raise a match of $200,000, and the midsized ones who can will not be able to afford a staff person to perform the level of documentation called for in a Comprehensive Performance Management System. What happened to a good ole strategic plan? This requirement must have been set up by somebody who has never been in the trenches — and will lead to a lot of “creative” writing.