This year, the Independent Sector's Panel on the Nonprofit Sector clarified the terms of that responsibility in its June 2005 report to Congress and the nonprofit sector, Strengthening Transparency, Governance, and Accountability of Charitable Organizations.
In his Executive Vice President-COO's report in the 2005 Annual Report, John Craig observes that The Commonwealth Fund agrees with the Panel's assessments. However, Craig explains that the Fund's own experience confirms that standardized metrics and reporting systems are unlikely to align well with the work of most foundations or be sensitive enough to provide useful lessons. Instead, foundations should assemble an array of methods that allow them to examine their own performance and that of their grantees, make improvements based on lessons learned, and report findings to their various audiences. This holds true especially for the Fund and similar "value-added" foundations, which work directly with grantees to develop projects, carry them to fruition, and disseminate results.
To read the complete essay online, open the 2005 Annual Report.