Organizations Profiles

Laura and John Arnold Foundation Opens Up on Metrics

John and Laura Arnold
IMG: via Arnold Foundation

Known for shaking up the approach to philanthropy, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation continues to stress the importance of evaluating metrics when making a charitable contribution.  The foundation wants to answer questions about what sort of impact will be made and whether the money given will do the most possible good.  As part of the innovative process, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation created The Reporting Commitment.  Sixteen other organizations have signed up for the commitment, which promises to provide maximum transparency for each grant given through each respective foundation.

The Arnolds and the VNA Foundation, which is organized by Visiting Nurses, launched the initiative last October.  The Reporting Commitment holds nonprofits of any size more accountable and encourages collaboration and cooperation by making all grant information publicly available on a quarterly basis.  Another part of the initiative is to collect data and make nonprofits more efficient and smarter about decisions overtime.  All data for the initiative is licensed under Creative Commons.

Other organizations that have joined the Reporting Commitment are the W.K. Kellog, Bill and Melinda Gates, The William and Flora Hewlett, MacArthur and The Rockefeller Foundations.  Currently foundations are missing central data bases that can assist them in metrics, evaluation and processes.  So far, the commitment has also created more camaraderie among the foundations, which combined manage billions of dollars in assets.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has three main teams.  The criminal justice team is currently developing tools that assess the likelihood of repeat offenses or make court dates.  The research integrity initiative staff is funding scientific research, including a massive study on obesity and nutrition.  The third arm is for public accountability, which is working on evaluating social programs for efficiency and effectiveness.

To read more about Laura and John Arnold, read our profile.