The end of the twentieth century marks a critical period for nonprofit organizations. It is not only that they are facing funding shortages. Not having enough money is a chronic problem. … Now, however, growing pressures are compounding the problem created by budget concerns:
• The demand for services is increasing as funds decline. • Funders are no longer willing to allocate funds simply on the basis of showing the need for the services an agency supplies. … The watchwords of the day are accountability, impact, outcome effectiveness, quality service. • Funders are not the only ones using these watchwords. The recipients of services are no longer willing to accept what is provided if they are not satisfied. They, too, are organizing to demand client satisfaction.
—Murray and Tassie (1994:303)
THE ACCOUNTABILITY of service organizations for evidence of service effectiveness is a recurrent issue in human service programs. Traditionally, a combination of the mission statement for nonprofit service organizations and the legislative mandate for governmental organizations, plus quality assurance control through staff training, professional education, and professional standards of practice (Wells and Brook 1988), have been taken as evidence of the quality, and presumed effectiveness, of the services provided for the service user. However, there are now increasing expectations for information about service outcomes, particularly as the scope of human service programs has increased dramatically together with major expansions of governmental funding for such programs. In nonprofit and quasi-governmental nonprofit organizations, decisions about the design of effectiveness assessments are a critical area of program policy that involves decisions by boards of directors as well as by executive staff members.