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Narratives of performance measurement in philanthropic foundations

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Philanthropic foundations with a permanent endowment are among the few organisations that have no requirement to measure and prove their performance to ensure sustainability. This article begins by outlining the puzzle of performance measurement in endowed foundations and then briefly reviews the literature. Findings from an exploratory study of Australian foundations' approaches to measurement are presented. We suggest that beneath the broad adoption of the language of measurement there is a more complex story. There were three broad narratives in relation to measurement, which we label resistance, qualification and realism. These three narratives explain differences in levels of commitment and practice, and go some way towards understanding foundations' ambiguous relationship with performance measurement, as illustrated in this study and the wider literature.
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Keywords: AUSTRALIA; FOUNDATION; PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT; PHILANTHROPY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected] 3: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2017-11-01

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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