Monday, November 9, 2009

Picks of the Week: November 8 - 14, 2009

Website of the Week -- Economy Track

Economy Track provides the tools to track the recession and unemployment crisis, with the option of focusing specifically on trends by state, race/ethnic group, gender, occupation, and education level. Bringing together up-to-date and historic data, this site also provides important context by comparing the current economic downturn to past recessions. All of the data and methodology underlying Economy Track’s graphs are downloadable and fully sourced, with some data only available from this new Economic Policy Institute resource. Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Building a Performance Measurement System: Using Data to Accelerate Social Impact Andrew Wolk, Anand Dholakia and Kelley Kreitz

From the publisher: If your organization is dedicated to social impact, you know how challenging it can be to evaluate progress on achieving your mission. A performance measurement system can provide your organization with the internal knowledge necessary to help you accelerate your organization s social impact, in addition to generating performance data that is increasingly required by funders.
This practical guide provides an easy-to-follow, five-step process for developing a performance measurement system that will serve as an essential tool for any organization seeking to:

• Select what to measure in order to obtain a clear picture of the organization s progress in achieving its mission, goals, and vision
• Develop dashboards for internal reporting and learn how to analyze performance data to gain insights into the organization s strengths and identify opportunities for improvement
• Create a culture of learning and continuous improvement that involves management, board, and staff in making strategic, data-driven decisions and ultimately accelerates the organization s progress toward enduring social impact
• Develop report cards to communicate performance and impact to external stakeholders
• Use data-based evidence to aid in building funder confidence and securing new and returning investments

Building a Performance Measurement System draws on Root Cause s unique performance measurement methodology, which was developed through its work with social innovators throughout the United States, as well as a number of international organizations. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week -- Escalating Pension Costs Hurting Nonprofits

Most nonprofit organizations offering retirement benefits to their workers report that these plans are under stress, according to survey results released today by the Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project.
Nonprofits offering “defined benefit plans” (plans with a guaranteed benefit) have been particularly hard hit, with 76 percent reporting that their plans are currently under stress and 43 percent reporting severe or very severe stress. Even those offering “defined contribution plans” (plans with investments controlled by the employee and no guaranteed benefit) have been affected, however, with 58 percent reporting that their plans are under stress. As a result, organizations have been forced to reduce retirement benefits, scale back employer matches, end future benefit accruals, and deny pension coverage to new employees, or as a last resort, divert resources from program operations. Many smaller organizations have been prevented from offering pension benefits at all. Other findings from the Johns Hopkins survey include:

• More than two-thirds (67 percent) of all survey respondents reported offering some type of retirement benefit plan to their employees.
• More than half (58 percent) of responding organizations offer a defined contribution plan for workers and about 15 percent offer a defined benefit plan. Coverage of nonprofit workers is extensive: 69 percent of organizations offering defined benefit plans and 54 percent of those offering defined contribution plans indicated that at least half of their employees (including both fulltime and part-time workers) participate in the plans.

The full report "Escalating Pension Benefit Costs—Another Threat to Nonprofit Survival?" is available online at

Resource of the Week -- Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice

Since their release in 2007, the Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice have helped thousands of organizations across the nonprofit community strengthen their operations. Now, the Principles Workbook: Steering Your Board Toward Good Governance and Ethical Practice provides further support for nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs committed to examining and improving their governance practices. The Principles Workbook will make it easier for boards of directors and staff leaders to assess the areas where their organizations are doing well and where there is room for improvement. It distills the core concepts in each of the 33 principles and suggests points for board and staff to discuss about their current practices. Progress worksheets accompanying each of the four sections assist nonprofits and foundations in making plans and recording their progress. Go to: Free registration is required to download the workbook.

Tech Tip of the Week -- Microsoft Access 2007 Online Tutorials

If you’re trying to learn Microsoft Access 2007 there are excellent online resources available. I recommend checking these out:

Microsoft Office Online offers several Access 2007 Courses

Access 2007 Tutorial developed by Florida Gulf Coast University

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