Support Giving Evidence’s work!

Support Giving Evidence’s work on improving outcomes by improving the quality and use of evidence in charities and giving:

We use support for things like:

  • Ground-breaking research (that funders don’t pay for) such as our work showing that high-performing charities spend more on admin costs than lower-performing ones, contrary to popular notion. There is plenty more of that which we could be doing.
    • We rather unexpectedly prompted a (the first ever?) study of the effect on donors of independent ratings of a charity’s quality. There have been many studies of how independent assessments of companies affect investor behaviour, but nothing analogous on how independent assessments of charities affect donor behavior – despite there being several independent assessors such as Charity Navigator. Following a conversation in which Caroline raised this, a researcher at the University of Chicago did a field study, which is completed and awaiting publication.
  • Raising public awareness that charities vary in quality through conferences and press. They include: Podcast interview with Tiny Sparks; article in Stanford Social Innovation Review, part of a series about strategic philanthropy curated by Paul Brest; in Global Citizen magazine; in Spears Wealth Management magazine; in Ethical Corporation; in Forbes; on BBC Radio 4. The full list is at
  • Talking publicly about how any donor can find good non-profits to support, e.g., through umpteen unpaid speaking events, articles, e.g., in MoneyWeek, on BBC Radio 4, on Giving Tuesday.
  • Encouraging more ‘feedback’ in the giving system. Giving Evidence is a founder-member of FeedbackLabs which convenes organisations interested in this, to spur more action. Caroline spoke at its conference in Washington DC, and wrote about the issue in Alliance Magazine, and talked about it on BBC Radio 4.
  • Raising the profile of other important organisations. They include:
    • Writing with City Philanthropy about FullFact, the fact-checkers, ahead of the UK general election.
    • Getting an article about the James Lind Alliance, which puts patients’ priorities into the process for medical research, into Alliance Magazine, and connecting them with various others in this sector.
    • Writing about AllTrials, which aims for publication of the results of all clinical trials, not just the ones which flatter pharmaceutical companies. This ‘missing evidence’ is a major problem. Caroline wrote about them for The Life You Can Save, and connected them to various funders.

Work we would love to do – and would use your support for:

Improving the research which charities produce & use:

  • Highlighting the problems with charities’ impact research: showing how little is published, how poor it is, unclear, hard to find, and hard/impossible to use to compare organisations (which is, after all, what donors need to do). Also the extent to which charities explain what they actually do, and what evidence their work is based on. This is a big ‘audit’ study. That will establish ‘the burning platform’, from which we can:
  • Convening key players to improve the situation, e.g., getting charities to use the same indicators (to enable comparisons), improving the information architecture (so that material is findable), and making it all clearer.

Improving understanding of various ‘ways of giving’

  • From our work with the University of Chicago, we can see some early steps towards empirical experiments and analysis to improve major funders’ performance. however, it turns out to be really hard to get funders to pay to be lab-rats themselves, so that work probably needs to be funded not by mainstream charitable funders.