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, February 11, 2008

Allowing for Growing Pains

Some preliminary feedback on our reports suggests that we may need to make two forms of reports, one for HNIs and one for corporate donors. The HNI reports need to be shorter and more anecdotal. The corporate reports need to be closer to financial disclosures.

We have generally leaned toward the corporate model, shying away from photos and anecdotes because we don’t want to encourage that type of behavior. Also, it is difficult to verify such stories unless we actually listen and make a record of those stories. It would be great if we could, but given our resource limitations, we are trying to figure how to “humanize” our reports without having to reply on the NGOs for their stories because we can not be 100% certain that they are correct.

One of the dangers in measuring the effectiveness is that it might dissuade the innovativeness of the projects funders are prepared to support. Measures if not tailored correctly will be overly harsh on new groups as they test out new interventions and approaches to solving problems. If this is calculated without some leniency for such innovativeness these organizations will look worse and donors may shy away from them.

Thus, measurement standards must strike the right balance between innovation and effectiveness. This means that means that measurement frameworks, especially in the beginning of an organization’s life, must to be tailored to allow for innovation. As a organization grows and matures, more stringent measurement criteria can be applied.

The key point is that a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not work.

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