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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Business Schools in India

I’ve had several discussions with people writing articles on “new philanthropy’s” focus on bringing market ideas to NGOs and civil society in general. While I agree with many of those ideas – like transparency, disclosure of risks and key information, public reports – I am wary that emphasizing market concepts can thwart younger groups from going through the “inefficient” nascent stages of their development.

It is particularly important that people start voicing these types of concerns in India because the larger business culture is very strong here. The day that CAT (business school exam) was administered in India, it was the top story in all the papers and magazines and on TV. In fact, it was the top story for several days. That combined with this idolization of business icons, the prestige attached to conspicuous consumption, and generally all things market and growth oriented could be very dangerous. Not only are the problems I mentioned above a concern, but as NGOs do operate more like businesses and their public/annual reports more closely resemble capital market disclosures, there is a possibility that donors will grow to think that because they have significant business experience it will be valuable for them to opine about the day to day practices of the NGOs they support. While active interest is crucial, I think it is important to remember that the organizations will more often than not know what’s best.

I’ve heard some anecdotal evidence to support this but will track it during the donor-engagement stages to see if it is true – especially for Indian donors.