Think-tank Best Practice on Quantifying Results – How Do European Liberal Think-tanks Optimize Work and Evaluate Success

As most ELF members will doubtlessly concur, explaining just what a think-tank does – and does not – do, is not an easy task. Quantifying the results of the think-tanks work, on request from board members, financial supporters or policy makers, is a daunting task, which is often solved by rather reporting activities such as conferences held, politicians met or publications launched. When pressed to deliver ”real” short term results, the think-tank risks falling into the trap of being too close to policy or to mimic the work of consultants or lobbyists. On the other hand, not focusing on results may result in inefficiency and complacency, and may lead to funders withdrawing their support.

At Fores, encouraged by our board, we have felt the need to clarify and quantify our results, striving to answer ”How efficient are we?”, ”How do we become more relevant?” and ”Can we be more cost-effective?”, while at the same time jealously safeguarding the uniqueness of being a think-tank. We have developed a performance sheet, that met with approval from the board, but limited enthusiasm from our workforce, meaning that it is not currently a useful tool for improvement.

In April and May, Fores will conduct interviews with selected ELF member organisations and other non-profit organisation, and produce a background report to be used as the basis for this workshop.

During the day, we will discuss the background report and how we get from a report to a useful guide to measuring success. There will be two workshop sessions with the aim of being creative, and at the same time focussed. Based on the workshop, Fores and the co-operating member organisations will then produce a scorecard template and a questionnaire for measuring think-tank performance.

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