Performance in commercial organizations is generally defined from the perspective of shareholders around the central focus of profitability and corresponding return on shareholders’ equity. It is clear what kinds of information are relevant, and, through generally accepted accounting principles, how success is measured in terms of that information. There is, however, no such obvious unifying focus in public and private non-profit organizations which do not sell their products or services.
Some interesting attempts at systematizing the kinds of information to be included in a definition of performance in non-profit organizations appear in the evolving Canadian literature on accountability, and have been discussed in previous chapters. There is broad agreement that the set of information presented about organizational performance should include both procedural and consequential components. The procedural components include financial information on the extent of compliance with authorities of various kinds. The consequential components include various attempts to develop a surrogate for profit in the form of evidence on ‘value for money’, usually defined to include the use of resources (efficiency) and the achievement of organizational purposes (effectiveness). In its work on comprehensive auditing, the CCAF/FCVI defined the scope of organizational performance which should be addressed in a comprehensive or broad-scope performance audit to include the three components just described, 1 and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) elaborated formally on the definition of value for money and how its attainment should be assessed. 2 The CCAF/FCVI pursued the matter under the generic head of ‘effectiveness’, and proposed that this be defined comprehensively using the twelve attributes explored in the preceding chapter. 3 Most recently, a committee representing senior public servants and the Office of the Auditor General in British Columbia proposed an eclectic approach couched broadly in the traditional framework (financial results, compliance, and value for money, the last described as ‘operational results’) but drawing heavily on the CCAF/FCVI set of attributes in its interpretation and elaboration. 4