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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pros and Cons of Government Involvement for Sustainable Development

Indian law requires certain types of aid to pass through the government instead of private organizations. This is most apparent when one looks at UNICEF or World Bank funding, especially for education/child care. I’ve been struggling to determine whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

On one hand you have a completely different model in Bangladesh. There the majority of funds pass through to private groups. The result is that private development organizations are extremely powerful in Bangladesh and do not have to be reliant on government as much. I’ve read conflicting stories on whether this lessens the sting of corruption, but one could see how it does.

Also, in a country where the government would not otherwise get involved and does not develop some sort of expertise, it is probably better to turn to private organizations.

But in India, where the government has taken the time to care about addressing social issues and has developed a certain amount of expertise (though many would dispute this), the partnership with government is probably very helpful – especially for sustainable development. Lots of the problems that India faces are not regional. They occur throughout the country. But most of the groups tend to focus on regional concerns and try to solve issues regionally before expanding outwards. In such a case, the government has an important role in sharing information and providing a platform to discuss issues. Also, where large scale problems are being tackled – education, trafficking, poverty – without government involvement it is virtually impossible to make large scale meaningful change.

What I need to find out now is what portion of aid is lost in overhead costs by going through the government and what benefit is gained by having the government involved. If the overall waste is large then I may rethink my position, but as it stands now, I think that it is probably a very good thing that the government is actively involved.