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.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Defining "NGO"

The term "NGO", or "non-government organization", is a misleading term -- it's meaning depends entirely on who you ask. The literal meaning (i.e., not part of a government) offers little guidance and may even suggest that NGOs are prohibited from working with government. But NGOs are often most effective when they coordinate their efforts with governments.

Because of this ambiguity, The Charitable Measurement Initiative has developed it's own definition of NGO, which is carefully tailored to our work, but we believe it can be applied on a broader scale:

NGO means any organization, entirely or largely independent of government, formed to provide services or to advocate a public policy, with primarily humanitarian or cooperative rather than commercial objectives, and does not include organizations whose resources support political parties or religious groups."

Organizations that advocate a particular religious view should not be considered "NGOs". To illustrate this point, consider an organization operating a free school for disadvantaged children in a predominantly Hindu region. If that school actively promotes the Christian faith (or other faith) to its students, it should not be considered an NGO. To maintain their humanitarian component, NGOs must listen to their beneficiaries. If there were no "strings attached" to the education in the above example, the young students (the beneficiaries) would not ask to be converted.