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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Additional Thoughts on Beneficiary Surveys

We are working with several other groups to discuss the possibility of creating shared platforms for the exchange of information on NGOs throughout the world. One issue that has come is what measurement criteria should be used. There is a tendency to quantify everything. This is understandable because it allows for easier comparison, gives the donor a sense of understanding regarding the information he or she is viewing, and is quicker and easier to examine. We have discussed before how we are opposed to exclusive use of these criteria. For one, it often doesn’t provide anything useful. What does a score of 8 on responsiveness mean. What does 4 stars mean? Yes, these are useful and where possible quantitative data should be used but it must be in combination with more subjective measures or a hybrid to be full effective.

One thing we have mentioned is how we would like to incorporate beneficiary surveys into our reports to show how well NGO listen to their beneficiaries. We would like to use a common questionnaire to examine the groups and then use them to compare each other and their own progress. We will try to use number scores, but they will be hollow without some anecdotal support or at least some explanation of the score. Additionally, allowing for explanation means that the NGO is forced to reflect on the results and account for them – something we think is very important.