By James D’Ambrosio

If you run human service programs or manage others who do, you know the importance of program evaluation — numbers served, data collection, change in behavior(s), outcomes/findings, and making changes and modifications to improve service delivery and better measure performance. Now there’s a new resource to help. 

A new Web site — — is a joint effort between three founding organizations: the Urban Institute, a policy research and educational agency examining social, economic and governance challenges; Child Trends, a research center studying children at all stages of development; and Social Solutions, providing performance-management software for human service organizations. The site provides measurement tools and research-based findings simplified by subject matter experts to measure the impact of a broad spectrum of human service programs.

Designed to help beginner- and intermediate-level users make decisions about what and how to measure, PerformWell has an 11-member advisory board comprised of industry leaders providing guidance on operations, strategy and fund-raising. Eventually, more tutorials and webinars will be designed to help users better analyze and use information collected to maximize performance management.


The site defines performance management as “a dynamic process that is designed to better understand program operations, monitor outcomes, and ultimately, help nonprofits become high-performing organizations which produce positive outcomes. It involves regular, ongoing performance measurement, reporting, analysis, and program modification.” PerformWell emphasizes using data to make decisions during program operation and upon completion, as opposed to long-term decision-making, an important distinction.


The site offers three main sections. Here’s an overview of each:

1) IDENTIFY OUTCOMES: Provides an introduction and links to six categories: 1) Education and Cognitive Development; 2) Employment, Housing, and Self-Sufficiency; 3) Health and Safety; 4) Psychological and Emotional Development; 5) Relationships; and 6) Social and Behavioral Development. Clicking on a category provides a topic overview, helpful indicators and their importance, how to interpret results, and surveys and assessments.

2) IMPROVE SERVICE DELIVERY: Here you’ll find an overview and links to two categories: Education and Training, and Child and Youth Development. Education and Training provides a subsection on workforce development, five surveys/assessments, and five questions your program should answer. Child and Youth Development has five subsections: 1) Bullying Prevention; 2) Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention; 3) Mentoring; 4) Out-of-School-Time Programs; and 5) Tutoring.

3) FIND SURVEY/ASSESSMENTS: A third section offers 112 surveys for  outcome categories and 89 assessments for program categories. Each survey includes an outline: a) Indicators; b) Population; c)  Administration method; d) Number of questions; e) Creator(s) of the tool; f)Scoring/benchmarking; and g) if there’s a cost for using it.

So give it a look — — and see if it can be useful in your work. Anything that improves programming and boosts efficiency is a plus for agencies and the people they serve.    



a) What do you think of this resource? b) Can it help with your work? c) Are you inclined to use it?

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