Welcome to the Charitable Measurement Initiative!

The Charitable Measurement Initiative is a collaboration of people and organizations that are deeply committed to the belief that social change organizations can mobilize significant new and better investment if they are able to implement a measurement reporting framework that credibly communicates their real impact to donors. The Initiative is directed by GiveIndia and calls on the resources of pilot program partners Keystone Accountability, Global Giving, and New Philanthropy Capital, as well as many other organizations committed to social welfare.

The process began when we decided to combine our previous experiences in humanitarian and charitable work with our current work as corporate lawyers. We sought to find a group in India that was looking to incorporate capital markets/securities concepts in reporting and analysis to create more valuable and transparent information.

Thankfully, we were put in touch with GiveIndia. Give discussed the idea of running a pilot program implementing the Keystone framework developed by Keystone Accountability to see if we could help organizations more clearly articulate the outcomes they wanted and better communicate their actual results to donors. This was exactly what we were hoping to do and gladly agreed to donate a year of time to making this work.

While we were in London, Give put us in touch with Keystone Accountability and New Philanthropy Capital. After many meetings throughout the spring and summer, we arrived at our joint creation – the Charitable Measurement Initiative – and a plan as to how we would seek to help NGOs in India become more transparent, responsive, and efficient, as well as help donors become more engaged and involved.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What Informs Donation Decisions?

Give is hoping to create a social exchange. Ultimately, it would stop evaluating NGOs using specific criteria to determine whether they should be listed on the Give site and would function more as typical stock exchange – listing if the group meets certain minimum criteria and leaving ratings to others.

One of the hopes in creating an online market place is that with greater information available through the internet, donors will use this information to educate their charitable decisions so that they do not rely on proxies for outcomes.

What I mean is that they don’t look at some statistic like number of schools built but question how the schools operate, whether they are they right type of schools, whether the children are getting an education that allows them to get future jobs, or higher education, or whatever the end result sought.Unfortunately, what seems to be happening is that internet is just reinforcing the practices of non-online donating. People still rely on images of starving children, etc. and that sways donating decisions.

If that is the case, then I wonder how useful a reporting framework will be? The key it seems to me is not convincing NGOs of why working through a process that clearly articulates outcomes sought and what needs to be done to get there is right, but instead convincing donors that they need to do more and need to take more responsibility. They need to demand more information and they need to really think about what they want to accomplish. While this might work when holding the hands of certain individuals or companies, I don’t know how this works without holding their hands and acting as some sort of “charitable” wealth advisor.

What would be useful is some sort of survey about what donors want from their donations. Do they want to actually have a certain impact, regardless of publicity or “graphic” measures, or do they want to engage in a process that sees slow but (hopefully) definite social change. I don’t mean for this to be full of judgment (which it definitely reads as) but I don’t know. I would be interested in any good donor surveys that people could recommend. I’ll post a summary of the ones I have and any I get soon.