More good stuff on impact, outcome measures and overheads – 4/27

A couple of articles on measuring outcomes and some discussion on the high cost of using telemarketers.

4/19 – Nonprofit Chronicles – Foundations, Nonprofits and Performance Anxiety – Marc Gunther describes a theater in Houston that sends an email survey to all customers the next day after a show. Their goal is to “enrich” and “stimulate” their audiences. The surveys ask questions to see if patrons get deeply involved. They want to know more than what the ticket count is.

Those are the kinds of outcome measures that nonprofits ought to be looking for, but aren’t.

He has a great idea. Perhaps foundations should force grant recipients to be looking for some sort of outcome measure.

Here’s the really radical idea: he suggests foundations should include funding in their grants to pay for pushing recipients to measure outcomes.

4/26 – Nonprofit Chronicles – Water Taps and Information Gaps – So a charity puts in a well to provide clean water in a village where people got their water from a dirty puddle or shallow, contaminated well.


Did the well have any impact on health over the next one or five years?

Was the well even working a year or three later?

No one knows. No one can quantify the impact of drilling hundreds or thousands of wells.

Preliminary, feeble efforts are underway to try to get a vague clue on the answer.

For a long explanation on sorting out what the actual long-term impact may be, check out the article. Good read on water specifically, and measuring outcomes in general.

4/15 – Dan Pallotta at Harvard Business Review – The Economics of Charity Telemarketing – Mr. Pallotta defends telemarketers. The percentage they keep of the funds raised isn’t as high as many people think.

He mentions an article I’m touched before: Charity or scam? Meet the 5 telemarketers that pocketed $89 million asking for charity donations – The article at mentions the five largest telemarketers in New York made $89M from their work.  Mr. Pallotta points out the focus is on their cut, not what they raised. Good point.

Then he drops in a general criticism that telemarketers keep 95% of the money they raise. Well, that’s a straw man.

The article has a table of the money raised and how much went to the charities. The five largest raised $202.5M. Of that, the five companies kept $87.7M, so the charities received $114.8M. That is a breakout of 43.3% to the telemarketers and 56.7% to the charities.

Mr. Pallotta does outline the situation in which using telemarketers make sense: specifically identifying people who can eventually be turned in to very long-term donors.


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