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, November 25, 2007

Annual Reports Are Useless

Most of the annual reports of the organizations we have looked at offer very little material that is not available on the website. The information on the website is usually easier to access is more current. The annual report's only real benefit seems to be to consolidate information in one place and provide easier access to financials. However, for the better performing groups, the website provides all the same information, if not more, so the only advantage seems to be the financial information. But because financial disclosures are limited to the statutory minimum, they provide little depth as to actual expenditures, whether expenses were double counted, etc. problems we have already found. As such, I am bound to think that they are a total waste of time, more meant as marketing material without much meet. They are useful to get some information or a quick idea of what the organization does or wants to do, but one is better off going to the website. That is not to say that they are all bad.

A few prospective donors have said that they would like to see annual reports to make funding decisions. I think this is mostly from corporate practice and not because anyone actually finds a great deal of value in them.

To be more useful, it would be nice to get more information into the reports regarding strategic planning aims, progress against performance measures, beneficiary voice, and overall strategy. Essentially…less what they are doing and more what they hope to achieve and how they are progressing on that.