Here are a few more articles in the ongoing conversation of how to assess charities: overhead or impact.
2/25 – Christianity Today – Welcome to the Golden Age of Global Charity – Review emphasizes portion of book that describes the growing levels of accountability for effectiveness.
I added it to my already-long reading list. Caution for me in terms of reading priority is that browsing a bunch of comments at Amazon suggests few readers realized measuring effectiveness was even a topic in the book.
3/5 – Syracuse.com – Charity or scam? Meet the 5 telemarketers that pocketed $89 million asking for charity donations – Survey of the five largest telemarketers in New York State.
3/4 – Steven Nardizzi at LinkedIn – A Special – and Detrimental – Interest in Charity Fundraising – I’m not familiar with the fight between the Humane Society of the US and the Oklahoma AG. Apparent topic of litigation is their fundraising. Mr. Nardizzi weighs in on the issue from an overhead angle. A few highlights:
Charitable organizations are closely scrutinized for how much they spend on fundraising and management, with significantly less focus on the impact of their programs that serve the public.
That has been the core of the issue for decades. It is very hard work to measure impact. It is astoundingly easy to pull out a calculator and do one simple division calculation. Only takes a few seconds.
I am simply pointing out that by overemphasizing overhead costs, we are limiting our potential to do good.
If flagrant, over-the-top, emotional manipulation could be quantified in the financial statements, I know who would be the world-wide leader in fundraising.
3/8 – Nonprofit Chronicles – Evaluating Nonprofits: If not overhead, then what? – Marc Gunther asks a superb question: what do donors look at if not overhead?
Of the announcement last year, he says:
Guidestar, Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance had launched a campaign to dispel a myth that they had helped to create and perpetuate.
Guidestar is offering charities the opportunity to answer five questions, which I’ll quote:
What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
What are your strategies for making this happen?
What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
How will your organization know if you are making progress?
What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?
Charities who answer the questions and provide some other information about effectiveness get a “gold level” designation. Guidestar won’t be ranking charities, just identifying those who address the questions.
The comparison is to Amazon’s info on books. You can look up professional reviews, reader comments, consumer ratings, and sales rank. Oddly enough, I don’t pay attention to the sales level when I’m considering whether to buy a book.
Perhaps Guidestar will give us something worth looking at apart from a simplistic ratio.