Performance Management vs. Catch-All Solution

Making the Most of Demonstrating Value

“Don’t start with a tool and ask ‘what can I use it for?’.  Ask: ‘what do I want to accomplish?’, then match the right tool and strategy.” Chronicle of Philanthropy @philanthropy (Twitter, April 24)

The Demonstrating Value website offers an assortment of resources that can help you at various stages of your organization’s development. The Demonstrating Value tools and resources were developed to help social enterprises and community organizations build capacity around monitoring and evaluation, enhance their business planning and communicate their social impact. However, we’ve learned that sometimes groups really need to ask the question: when is the right time to embark on the process of developing a snapshot with the Demonstrating Value framework?  

Just as this quote from @Philanthropy says, it doesn’t make sense to pick up a tool like the Demonstrating Value snapshot for the sake of  finding a way to use it (as cool as it is). Rather, in the case of Demonstrating Value, you need to ask whether this is the right tool for your business at this point in its development.

Think about this: the indicators that a social enterprise chooses to measure should be evident in the enterprise’s business plan and/or logic model, if you have one or both. If you don’t have a solid sense of your business plan, the Demonstrating Value framework won’t magically fill those gaps for you, although it might expose them (and that can be valuable). Without a clearly articulated goal and strategy, it is hard to choose indicators, monitor and evaluate in a way that will be meaningful to the development of your enterprise. 

At the Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), Social Enterprise Portfolio grant recipients use Demonstrating Value as a performance management and reporting tool. VCF has seen that most of what the Social Enterprise Portfolio groups need in terms of their performance monitoring is already in place or articulated in their business plan. For these groups, Demonstrating Value fills necessary monitoring gaps and provides a framework for creating a reporting snapshot.

What does all of this mean? The Demonstrating Value framework should be focused on performance management, rather than serve as a catch-all to solve business planning problems. If your social enterprise or community organization is at the stage where your business planning is underway and you have a good set of indicators, then Demonstrating Value may be the tool for you!

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