Category Archives: Effective giving

When charitable donations cost more than they give

Popularity contests for funding waste time and resources This article first published in the Financial Times in November 2016.  Some charitable donors are a net drain: they cost organisations they seek to help more than they contribute. Others come pretty … Continue reading

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How to give it: Why charity should begin in the science lab

This article first published in the Financial Times in April 2016 Not all charities are good causes. This may sound surprising, because we’re used to thinking of them all as being somehow virtuous, but they vary in their effectiveness. Smart donors … Continue reading

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Oops: we made the non-profit impact revolution go wrong

By Caroline Fiennes and Ken Berger, managing director of Algorhythm.  The non-profit ‘impact revolution’ – over a decade’s work to increase the impact of non-profits – has gone in the wrong direction. As veterans and cheerleaders of the revolution, we are both … Continue reading

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Making charity & philanthropy more evidence-based

Giving Evidence’s purpose is improving the effectiveness of charitable giving and charitable work by improving the quality of evidence on which they are based. The changes that we need are very analogous to changes which happened in medicine, in terms of … Continue reading

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What makes a helpful reporting & evaluation system? Learning from an outlier

Funders’ reporting and evaluation systems are rarely loved: they are more often regarded as compliance or ‘policing’. But not so for the Inter-American Foundation apparently: IAF received better feedback from its grantees on its reporting and evaluation system than have … Continue reading

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The Magic Impact Fairy will ensure that your research really changes something

Many charities’ theory of change is: ‘here’s that document you didn’t ask for’ I want to introduce you to someone: the Magic Impact Fairy. Her job is to take all the research that people do and the reports they write, … Continue reading

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The charity sector should use more systematic reviews to leverage what’s already known

Any single piece of evaluation research, designed to understand the effect of an intervention, has limitations. It will examine the effect of a particular intervention on some particular outcomes in a particular group of people (‘population’), at a particular time. That’s … Continue reading

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How come this foundation’s grantees love its reporting process so much?

Most charities hate the reporting which funders make them do. Notionally a learning process, it’s often just compliance, box-ticking and a dead-weight cost. But not so apparently for the Inter-American Foundation, an independent US government agency which grant-funds citizen-led community … Continue reading

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Deworming: problems under re-analysis

A flawed study on deworming children—and new studies that expose its errors—reveal why activists and philanthropists alike need safeguards. The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, of all things, offers a critically important message for people who work … Continue reading

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Is grantee / beneficiary feedback a substitute for RCTs?

The short answer is no. At first sight, it seems that randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and Constituent Voice (CV: a good way of gathering feedback from programme beneficiaries or grantees) could substitute for each other because they both seek to … Continue reading

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