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, January 21, 2008

NGOs Complain About Donor Practices

After meeting with NGOs throughout India, we have heard numerous complaints from NGOs about donor practices. These complaints often relate to practices that impair an NGO’s ability to effect social change. Many of these problems in the donor/NGO relationship, we believe, will be alleviated by the reporting practices CMI endorses.


One practice often complained of is what we like to call "over-steering" or "back-seat driving" of an NGO. This occurs when donors use their money to demand NGO take on certain new activities or different operations. NGOs explained that donors contacting them are often willing to commit significant funds, but only if the NGO takes on a project or cause that the NGO did not previously engage in. We have one example that borders on the absurd: an education-focused NGO was offered large funds provided that it do HIV/AIDS work as well. When large enough funds are offered, many NGOs will except on the condition of doing new types of work.


Donors often demand that a NGO tie donations to one of the specific projects, or one of the many activities that the NGO does. NGOs are thereby forced to distribute funds unevenly throughout the NGO’s operation. This does not give NGOs the resources they need to effect complex social change. In extreme cases, NGOs are forced to borrow from one project to keep the NGO afloat. NGOs tell us that only the rare, well-informed donor understands that developmental organizations cannot continue efficiently if they are separated financially into tiny parts, some well financed, while others go bankrupt.

One-Off or Limited Duration Funding

NGOs also complain that they need to constantly seek new donors because too many of their supports make only one-time or limited duration donations. NGOs believe that donors want to constantly find new causes to support. That is not in itself bad, but it is not conducive to effective development work, which requires a steady stream of funds from life-long donors, year in year out.