All funders must decide which problems to address, how to allocate resources, and whether to modify, continue, or wind up specific programs. Developing systematic approaches and analytic tools to support assessment and decision-making is therefore a high priority for many philanthropic organizations. Metrics and measurement can be used to guide decisions at various stages in the lifecycle of philanthropic initiatives: as part of formulation and planning, in support of implementation, and as a central element of the evaluation of initiative success and effects. Their use can also boost transparency (by making decisions and actions clear) and accountability (by showing the reasoning behind decisions), an important consideration for interactions between federal agencies and foundations discussed in the prior chapter.
This study identified a number of innovative uses of metrics and measurement. The Hewlett Foundations expected return (ER) metric and MCCs 17 indicators used to determine which countries and sectors should receive compact funding are used in planning stages. MCCs indicators also represent an innovative application of measurement to help guide implementation. The Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations use innovative approaches to measuring outcomes in the evaluation phase of programs and overall operations. Finally, the Gates Foundation is supporting the development and application of quality metrics for use across all stages of the lifecycle of public health initiatives.