Appendix: Self-Assessment Template

These 20 questions will help you begin to understand your local landscape in terms of its potential for cross-sector efforts, its openness to outside or new ideas, the availability of resources for trying innovative programs, key barriers to reform, and more. Many of these questions can be directed to a range of actors across sectors.  A few (as denoted) are specifically geared to government agencies seeking to re-evaluate their impact on the local landscape and environment for public problem solving.


1. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate how difficult you believe the following stumbling blocks will be to overcome in the effort to reform city and county procurement processes? (1= Not at all difficult; 5 = Extremely difficult)

  • Concern over adapting outside innovations to local context
  • Political expediency & momentum will always drive funding decisions
  • Opposition from incumbent providers and their sponsors
  • Lack of political will, especially at a time of transition
  • Aversion to risk & fear of failure
  • Daily responsibilities leave little time for rethinking and rebuilding
  • No market discipline to clear out old & incentivize new ideas
  • “Experts” rarely seek citizen input or client voice
  • Years of rules and regulations built on top of one another
  • Administrative or bureaucratic hurdles too high
  • Other (please specify)

2. On a scale of 1 – 5 (1=never relevant, 5=always relevant), rate the relevance of the following challenges or constraints in funding nonprofit providers?

  • Not enough money to reach goals
  • Must spread money around instead of giving more to highest performers
  • Too many rules imposed by funding sources
  • Too many rules imposed by the city and county
  • List of rules and regulations restricting who is eligible is long
  • Too few competing nonprofit providers
  • Not enough quality providers to fund
  • Political influence forces us to fund non-performing vendors
  • Administrative requirements to bid/apply are so great, very few small or new providers apply
  • Other (please specify)

3. Name the most important innovation in your field that is being implemented outside your city. Briefly describe (1-2 lines) the likelihood of importing or replicating that model in your city. What would keep it from happening?

4. Briefly describe (1-2 lines) a recent effort to innovate or reform your organization, business or agency’s current practices in order to better achieve your goals.

5. Briefly describe (1-2 lines) an example of how your organization, business or agency re-envisioned its mission and/or made a major investment in a significantly different set of activities or approaches.

6. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the impact of each of the following polices (at state or city level) on breaking down barriers to innovation in your city (1 = Unfamiliar to me; 5 = Making an impact here)

  • Sunset provision (forces budget justification regularly)
  • Performance measurement and/or outcome-based budgeting
  • Funding preventive measures when possible
  • Repurposing public dollars from what does not work to what works
  • Funding that requires collaboration across traditional boundaries
  • Funding that continues, rather than ends, when an idea is shown to work
  • Competitive funding/putting grant-funded projects up for bid
  • Incentives for investment in R&D or new technologies
  • Other (please specify)


7. Name the top 3 organizations, businesses or agencies with which you currently collaborate on a somewhat regular basis.

8. Name a current or past local effort(s), whether formal or informal, to bring together city agencies, businesses, grant-makers, nonprofit organizations, citizen groups, and others to achieve a shared goal. Briefly describe who initiated the effort, and what has been accomplished to date?

9. Briefly describe how you measure and report on the impact of the nonprofit providers that your agency funds.  Indicate to whom you report this information and briefly describe what they/you do with this information.*

10. List the three most important factors that influence your funding decisions for non-profit service providers (renewal or new):*

11. On a scale of 1-5 (1 =never, 5 = always), rate the extent to which each of the following contributes to your agency’s decision to fund or renew a nonprofit provider:*

  • Nonprofit is new to the and county but has a strong national or regional reputation
  • Nonprofit has a track record of past performance
  • Ability of nonprofit to articulate community need or purpose and outcomes
  • Nonprofit has strong infrastructure in place to implement program objectives
  • Nonprofit has significant support from local elected officials
  • Program fits within stated goals and objectives of the funding source
  • Nonprofit’s programmatic model fits the agency’s preferred approach
  • Nonprofit has broad grassroots community support
  • Nonprofit is one of only a few with capacity for the specified work
  • Nonprofit has a novel approach to better meet the needs of the target community
  • Nonprofit has sufficient resources to respond to community needs
  • Nonprofit has significant support from local civic leaders (eg foundations, business, etc.)
  • Other (please specify)

12. Identify an example of a mayor in your city taking initiative to promote innovation or reform in the way that the city and county procure social services from nonprofit providers. Briefly describe (1-2 lines) what they did? How it was helpful (or not), and what changed as a result? How you would have improved that initiative to promote innovation and progress in your issue area? What was missing?

13. Name a recent watershed event that changed the trajectory of the field you are working in (e.g. homelessness, youth development, poverty reduction) in your city. Briefly describe its significance.

*Specifically geared to government agency respondents


14. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate past efforts on the part of the city and county to build operational capacity of new or small nonprofits to access city and county funding along the following dimensions (1=highly ineffective, 5 = highly effective):

  • Finding information about funding opportunities
  • Providing feedback or input on the early stages of crafting a request for proposals or grant application
  • Measuring the nonprofit provider’s work
  • Competing realistically for grants or contracts
  • Submitting an on-time application or proposal that follows city/county and agency guidelines
  • Complying with the auditing and financial requirements including record keeping, reporting, etc.
  • Other (please specify)

15. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate your agency or organization on each of the following innovation strategies (1=Weak; 5=Strong):

  • Willing to challenge budget earmarks and regulations that protect well connected providers regardless of performance
  • Seeking out exceptional local and national models or strategies
  • Willing to challenge long-standing programs or practices in your organization that don’t deliver results
  • Collaboration with other organizations or agencies to achieve priority goals
  • Recruits leadership or senior staff from outside the organization’s field of expertise
  • Leveraging social media to engage constituents, customers or citizens
  • Commitment to performance metrics within your organization
  • Setting aside funds to test out new ventures or models
  • Leadership that values and encourages innovation
  • Other (please specify)

16. Based on your experience, what are the most likely funding sources for new solutions to this problem in your city?

17. Name up to 3 foundations or businesses that potentially could encourage and enable collaboration on this issue in your city.

18. Briefly describe a recent campaign or other to inform the public or other stakeholders on your issue of choice. In your experience, how effective are grassroots marketing campaigns in increasing demand for innovation and driving results in this field?

19. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate how important to your agency or organization are the following ways to engage citizens or clients’ perspectives? (1 = not at all important; 5 = important tool for decision making)

  • Digital media: mobile or online technology platforms
  • Citizen or client choice mechanisms (e.g. vouchers)
  • Mechanisms to garner feedback from clients or customers (e.g. surveys, focus groups, front-line staff reporting)
  • Public forums
  • Citizen, parent or client advisory councils
  • Sales numbers
  • Other (please specify)

20. Identify up to 3 local champions for innovation, or well-known change agents, and briefly describe (1-2 lines) why you selected them.