Performance Practice For Funders

Performance Practice for Funders

Performance Imperative Organizational Self-Assessment

A strategy that supports funder-grantee relationships, dialogue, and better results

Funders can use the Performance Practice to learn how they can best help grantees develop and sustain the strength and capability to deliver results for the people or causes they serve. You can also apply it to your own foundation.

Building on seven organizational disciplines necessary to achieve high performance, the Performance Practice provides a series of proof points—concrete behaviors and specific practices—that help your grantees improve.

The Performance Practice’s modular design and comprehensive proof points help facilitate open conversations about strengths and opportunities to improve organizational performance and results.

How Can You Benefit
from the Performance Practice?
Ways for Funders
To Use the Performance Practice

The Performance Practice’s modular design and comprehensive proof points support ongoing, mutual learning and help you:

  • Build genuine and trusting relationships with your grantees
  • Have open and honest dialogue about organizational strengths and opportunities
  • Support grantees’ efforts to improve organizational performance and results
  • Gain a better understanding of strengths and needs of your overall grantee portfolio

Address Key Organizational Capacities Underpinning High Performance

Broaden your focus from program performance to overall organizational performance by engaging your grantees in the Performance Practice process. Look at the organizational disciplines that underpin programs’ ability to produce results with consistency over time.

Support your grantees’ efforts to develop sustainable, high organizational performance.

Facilitate Grantee-Driven Organizational Improvement

By offering grantees choice and flexibility in how to drive the Performance Practice process, you recognize that one size doesn’t fit all and that internally motivated efforts are always more effective than those driven by external compliance requirements. You and your grantees may use selected modules—or parts of modules—in the ways that meet your needs best.

Support organizational improvement rather than organizational compliance.

Use a Discussion Guide Developed by 50+ Experts

Rely on an objective discussion guide developed with the collective expertise of 50+ nonprofit practitioners, researchers, funders, and consultants. The Performance Practice is the result of a collaborative and rigorous process.

Use a guide that has been vetted by funders like you and organizations like your grantees.

Offer an Accessible and Transparent Approach to Organizational Improvement

Engage your grantees in a process of reflection, learning, and development that is jargon-free, easy to understand, and transparent.

To advance its purpose of inspiring, motivating, and supporting nonprofit and public-sector leaders to build great organizations for greater societal impact, the Leap Ambassadors Community makes the Performance Practice available as a complimentary product.

The Performance Practice is designed for funders to use with their grantees. You can, however, also use it to advance performance in your own foundation.

Use the Performance Practice with Grantees

The Leap Ambassadors built the Performance Practice to help nonprofits reflect, move out of their comfort zones, learn, innovate, and improve. It’s not just another assessment template. Funders can use it creatively to foster open exchanges with grantees and support their pursuit of high performance. Here are some specific approaches to spark ideas:

For examples of how funders can use the Performance Imperative and Performance Practice to support grantee performance, check out the Funding Performance series.

Use the Performance Practice Internally

As a funder, you can use the Performance Practice internally to do what you encourage your grantees to do: reflect, move out of your comfort zones, learn, innovate, and improve on the journey to high performance. If you are using—or intend to use—the Performance Practice with grantees, using it in your own work gives you the added benefit of personal experience, which could inform your approach with grantees.

Most of the Performance Practice modules are as applicable to funders as they are to nonprofits, and you can follow the same flexible process for self-assessing, reflecting, learning, and improving with these specific pillars:

  • Module 1: Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership
  • Module 2: Disciplined, people-focused management
  • Module 5: A culture that values learning
  • Module 6: Internal monitoring for continuous improvement

Some modules, however, may be partially applicable:

  • Module 3: Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies. This strategy is most applicable if you are in the process of defining or redefining what types of strategies or programs you fund and/or how you fund nonprofits to deliver them. Review the principles and proof points to decide how this applies to your foundation at this time.
  • Module 4: Financial health and sustainability. In this pillar, about half the principles are directly applicable to foundations. Review the principles and proof points to decide how this applies to your foundation at this time.
  • Module 7: External evaluation for mission effectiveness is tailored to nonprofit organizations’ needs. Some parts apply to funders, but rather than using the pillar for their own self-assessment, funders may benefit from reviewing and discussing this pillar in the context of how best to support external evaluation for their grantees.

Get Started Today

Learn more about each of the modules below—or get started with one right away.

Module 1


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Module 2


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Module 3
Programs and Strategies


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Module 4
Financial Sustainability


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Module 5
Learning Culture


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Module 6
Internal Monitoring


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Module 7
External Evaluation


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Use All Modules


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