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.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Press Coverage of Indian Charity

I’ve seen a great deal of the foreign coverage focus on the negative aspects of giving here: a resentful middle class, HNIs not donating enough, growing dissatisfaction, and distrust of NGOs. While I have not seen many NGOs that aren’t operating honestly and doing a good job, that may be because we have limited ourselves by doing research, seeking advice as to best practices, and working with GiveIndia listed organizations. It is the Give oversight that most explains why we have yet to see bad ones.

But for all the coverage of the lack of domestic charity, what is missed is how innovate and deep some of the NGOs efforts are. In child labor, for example, India has some of the most innovative and progressive laws anywhere. The NGOs were instrumental in pushing for changes and advocating new legislation. The have done a lot to curb popular opinion against child labor – which is very difficult in this country. All of this is lost. And little of the innovativeness is shared with foreign outlets. It is a shame that what we see on a daily basis is not shared more widely.

Here, in India, you will see people who could be making – with no exaggeration – 10 to 12 times the salary, working 18 hour days to make sure that they consider every possibility to solve these enormous problems. And after seeing many examples through out North and Eastern Africa, the US, and the UK, I can confidently say that the best experiments in civil society solutions are in India. So, while there are problems with the “giving” culture at large here, there are many, many things that are fantastic. I just hope some of the media coverage brings that to light and shares that with everyone, instead of parading out the same article on the ridiculousness of Mumbai’s industrial elite (which, for the record, are not all Ambani’s – there are some unbelievably committed people too.)