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What is the Bottom Line for Nonprofit Organizations? A History of Measurement in the British Voluntary Sector

  • Emily BarmanEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Over the last two decades, nonprofit organizations in the United Kingdom (UK) have faced increased pressure to measure their activities in order to demonstrate their competency, to achieve legitimacy, and to obtain funding. This paper draws from recent literature in the sociology of science to examine quantification in the British voluntary sector as a historically situated and socially constructed process. Using archival and secondary documents, I find that quantification is not a new practice for charities in the UK; moreover, while they have employed metrication in the past, what activities nonprofits have measured, and the importance of measurement for their organizational success, has altered over the course of the century.

Keywords

Nonprofit Organizations Evaluation Performance Measurement Efficiency United Kingdom 

Résumé

Pendant ces vingt dernières années, les organisations à but non lucratif du Royaume-Uni ont été de plus en plus astreintes d’évaluer leurs activités pour faire la démonstration de leur compétence, pour établir leur légitimité et pour obtenir leur financement. Cet article se fonde sur des recherches récentes en sociologie scientifique pour examiner la quantification dans le secteur bénévole britannique en tant que processus fondé historiquement et construit socialement. En examinant les archives et documents annexes, j’en suis arrivée à la conclusion que la quantification n’est pas une pratique nouvelle concernant les œuvres de bienfaisance au Royaume-Uni ; de plus, tandis que la mesure a été employée par le passé, ce que les activités à but non lucratif ont mesuré, et l’importance de la mesure pour le succès de leurs organisations, se sont altérés au cours du siècle.

Zusammenfassung

In den vergangenen zwei Jahrzenten sahen sich die Nonprofit-Organisationen in Großbritannien erhöhtem Druck ausgesetzt, ihre Aktivitäten quantitativ zu erfassen, um ihre Kompetenz unter Beweis zu stellen, Legitimität zu erreichen und finanzielle Mittel zu erhalten. Dieser Beitrag stützt sich auf neue Literaturwerke aus der Soziologiewissenschaft, um die quantitative Erfassung im gemeinnützigen Sektor in Großbritannien als historisch verankerten und sozial gestalteten Prozess zu untersuchen. Archiv- und Sekundärquellen führen mich zu dem Schluss, dass die Quantifizierung keine neue Praktik der gemeinnützigen Einrichtungen in Großbritannien ist; während sie bereits in der Vergangenheit die Metrifizierung angewandt haben, haben sich vielmehr die von den Nonprofit-Organisationen quantifizierten Aktivitäten und die Bedeutung der Quantifizierung für ihren unternehmerischen Erfolg im Laufe des Jahrhunderts geändert.

Resumen

En las dos últimas décadas, las ONG del Reino Unido han tenido que hacer frente a presiones crecientes para calibrar sus actividades de forma que puedan demostrar su competencia, lograr legitimación y obtener financiación. Este trabajo se basa en publicaciones recientes de sociología para examinar la cuantificación del sector voluntario británico como un proceso con raíces históricas y de origen social. Partiendo de documentos secundarios y de archivo, he podido averiguar que la cuantificación no es una práctica nueva entre las organizaciones benéficas del Reino Unido. Es más, aunque en el pasado también valoraban sus actividades, las actividades valoradas y la importancia de esta valoración para el éxito de su organización, ha cambiado significativamente en el transcurso de un siglo.

摘要

在过去的二十年中,英国的非赢利性组织面对着日益增大的压力,因为他们需要对他们的活动进行准确的测评,以便证明他们的能力和价值,以此取得合法地位并获得更多资金。本文援引近期的社会学文献,探讨了英国志愿者机构采用的量化测算方式。在英国,这是具有历史传统和社会基础的运作方式。通过查阅档案文件与二手资料,我发现对于英国慈善机构来说,量化测评并非什么新东西。而且,尽管这些机构过去采用的都是一些标准的测评指标,但是,非赢利机构究竟应该对什么样的活动进行测评,以及测评对于机构取得成功的重要性如何,一个世纪以来都发生了很大变化。

概要

20年間にわたり、英国(イギリス)の非営利団体は自らの能力を実証し、正当性を立証し、基金を獲得するために、自らの活動を評価するプレッシャーに直面しています。本文は、科学社会学における最新の文献をまとめたもので、歴史的地位および社会的構造過程における英国のボランティア?セクターの能力を検証したものです。古文書および二次文献から、英国の慈善事業能力は新たな試みではないという結論に達しました。さらに、過去にメートル法を採用しましたが、一世紀で組織的成功を測定する重要性が変化したこともわかりました。

ملخص

خلال العقدين الماضيين ، المنظمات التي لا تسعى للربح في المملكه المتحده UK) ) واجهت ضغط متزايد لقياس أنشطتها من أجل إظهار كفاءتها ، لتحقيق الشرعيه ، و الحصول على الإعتماد المالي . هذا البحث تم إستنتاجه من الأدب الحديث في علم الإجتماع لإختبار كفاءه قطاع التطوع البريطاني كما هو قائم من الناحيه التاريخيه وعمليه تشييده إجتماعيا? .عن طريق إستخدام المستندات الأرشيفيه والثانويه ، لقد وجدت أن الأهليه ليست تطبيق علمي جديد للمؤسسات الخيريه في المملكه المتحده ؛ أكثر من ذلك ، بينما إستخدموا نظام قياسي في الماضي ، الأنشطه التي قاستها المنظمات التي لا تسعى للربح ، و أهميه قياس النجاح التنظيمي ، قد تغير على مر القرن .

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, College of Arts and SciencesBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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