Key Points

· In 2008, as charitable giving dropped by $6.4 billion, 54 percent of human service programs saw an increase in the need for their services. Additionally, 74 percent of programs specifically serving children and youth reported being underfunded or severely underfunded.

· As government and foundation grantmakers transition from charitable giving to social investment, a Gates Foundation report on eight methodologies to assist measuring social value creation finds the methodologies are many years away from being suitable for both nonprofits and grantmakers.

· To better recognize and communicate the work of frontline practitioners, there is a need to change the orientation of our evaluation efforts to produce practice-based evidence as opposed to the current approach of evidence-based practice.

· Tested and approved this year by fatherhood programs and their federal funder, the new Program Return on Investment (PROI) tool described herein simplifies monetizing the value of program outcomes and may be able to serve as a solution for valuation for all human service programs.

· Challenges to PROI implementation include (1) foundation acceptance and development for use across all human service programs and (2) expansion of the training required to help programs/ practitioners associate demonstrating value with sustaining support and embrace making a case for support that presents cost benefits and makes clear their program’s return on investment.

Open Access