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Challenges in the use of performance data in management

Nonprofit organizations are increasingly pressured to measure their performance. Although several studies identify driving factors of measuring performance in public organizations, there is limited understanding of current performance management practices at nonprofit organizations. Drawing from an online survey of mid- to large-sized nonprofit human service

organizations across the United States, this research examines: (1) the types of performance information human service nonprofits measure; (2) the frequency of using performance data; and (3) the challenges nonprofits commonly face integrating performance data into management. Our empirical evidence suggests that human service nonprofits must recognize that data collected to meet external accountability requirements, often mandated by government or funders, may not provide meaningful information that organizations can use to enhance performance. We also discuss the nuanced role tangible incentives play in nonprofit performance management. The article concludes by highlighting the need for nonprofit managers and grant makers to work together to develop measures that meet both accountability and performance improvement aims.


Kim, M., Charles, C. & Pettijohn, S. (2018). Challenges in the use of performance data in management: Results of a national survey of human service nonprofit organizations. Public Performance and Management Review. Article first published online: December 20, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1080/15309576.2018.1523107

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