Our Board’s Perspective on Performance Reporting
Apr 23, 2010
Jim is Irvine’s CEO. A native Californian, he is passionate about the Foundation
User is currently offline
From the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, April 22, 2010
In an earlier post on this blog, I pointed out that the audience for the Annual Performance Report (.pdf)is Irvine’s board of directors. As we delivered the fourth of these at our annual board retreat last month, we devoted some time to learning more about the board’s perspectives on the report.
There were two key themes that emerged, related to the value of context, and the appropriate frequency of the report. Regarding context, board members expressed in numerous ways how much they value the contextual information that the report provides. Two sections stood out in this regard: first, a table that describes how Irvine’s funding compares to other funders in our program areas, and second, a section on program context indicators, where we provide broader indicators related to our programs, such as per capita public spending for the arts across the U.S. or data on high school drop-out rates in California. This latter section is not meant to suggest that our work will necessarily affect those numbers, but rather to expose the board to broader data sets that help contextualize our program work.
The positive reaction to these sections of the report underscores for me how important it is to help our boards gain a deeper understanding of the environment for the Foundation’s activities. We can explain our goals and strategies and describe grants aligned with them, but there will always be a missing piece if the board is not able to contextualize our foundation’s work. The board’s feedback encourages us not only to consider other ways to use the report to provide such context, but also to explore how we can shape other board materials and meetings in ways that expose them to the broader environment for our work.
View the full blog post.