The Commonwealth Fund agrees with the Panel's assessments. We believe that accountability and transparency are crucial. However, 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.
Foundations can learn much from their counterparts throughout the nonprofit sector, just as the Fund has learned over the years from the practices of its peers. In that spirit, we offer an outline of the Fund's own performance assessment system and a compendium of the lessons it has generated about the most effective use of organizational resources.