We need to be scientific and fearless about assessing whether proposed solutions work
This article first published in the FT
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seems to have wasted six years and $1bn, having initiated a programme to improve teaching effectiveness in US schools. An evaluation released last month showed that it had a negligible effect on its goals — some of them worsened — which included student achievement, access to effective teaching and dropout rates.
Much the same happened to Ark, the UK-based charity founded by the hedge fund industry. It created and co-funded a programme in 25,000 schools in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, supporting the government to improve school performance. It was based on sound research about how to reduce teacher absence, improve teaching and create more accountability through school inspections. Ark has worked on it since 2012. Continue reading
This article first published in the Financial Times.
Anne Heller has done something that I had never previously seen in my 18 years in the non-profit sector. She identified a social problem, scoured academic literature to find a solution, and then set up a non-profit to implement it. That approach sounds jaw-droppingly obvious, but it is in fact very rare for a charity to design itself around existing evidence.
Ms Heller had worked for the city of New York when Michael Bloomberg was mayor, running shelters for homeless families. She noticed that about 10 per cent of the families who use the shelters returned repeatedly. In other words, the services which the shelters provided were not solving these people’s problems. Continue reading
We are producing a map of the existing evidence about child abuse within organisations
New project! Giving Evidence is working to produce a map of the existing evidence (and gaps in it) about what is effective at reducing child maltreatment – particularly child sexual abuse – within organisations, such as youth clubs, sports clubs, churches etc. We’ll be working on it with the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, and Professor Aron Shlonsky of Monash University in Melbourne, who have undertaken considerable research around this topic. Continue reading
Wide-ranging chat about charitable giving, with the Daily Mail.
What to give to, what to avoid, one of Caroline’s favourite charities, how to choose a charity… (~20 minutes) Please click on the picture below to watch the full video.
Giving Evidence and think-tank Charity Futures break new ground in researching what matters to charities and donors
Come give your views! – at a workshop in a snazzy venue in Manchester, on April 8th. Details and sign up here.
With Charity Futures, the new sector think tank led by Stephen Bubb, we are running a major consultation to find out the topics on which donors and charity leaders most want more research to help them in their vital work. We are also mapping the research about charities and philanthropy which already exists. The combination of these two pieces of work (understanding respectively ‘demand for’ and ‘supply of’ relevant research) will enable us to see the gaps: clearly this is essential for ensuring that charitable activity and giving can be based on sound evidence.
We have been inviting input from any charity, foundation, public or private donor in the UK. Through an open ‘crowd-sourcing’ process, including a series of focus groups across the country and a couple of rounds of public, open, online survey, the project invites charities, private donors and institutional funders to say where more research would be of most use. The project is supported by a distinguished advisory group of funders, private donors, researchers, charity leaders and umbrella bodies (listed below). Continue reading
How can you tell if a charity is effective, when there is little independent analysis?
This article first published in the Financial Times
Judging by my inbox, there seems to be huge demand for advice about which charities to support. As donors have followed the turmoil around Oxfam, Save the Children, Kids Company and others before them, they want decent independent analysis along the lines of the data that rating agencies provide for bonds or Which? does for fridges.
There isn’t any.
It doesn’t exist, because of costs, incentives and the genuine challenges involved in nailing it down. Continue reading
VIDEO: Watch Caroline’s new lesson with the Fitzroy Academy!
Full lesson here.
Making a big gift to draw other donors is only useful if the charity is highly effective
This article first published in the Financial Times
The practice of donors offering to “match” gifts made to charities they support has become common in the charity world. In the run-up to Christmas, many have been offering to double donations. In the recent Challenge Campaign, for instance, money given to selected charities was doubled by the Big Give, set up by Sir Alec Reed, founder of Reed, the recruitment firm.
Others schemes propose different deals: one donor was offering to give $2 for every $1 given on Friday to Charity Navigator, a charity rating agency; while PayPal will add 1 per cent to all donations made through its platform until New Year.
The UK’s Department for International Development does it too. Its UK Aid Match offered up to £5m from the UK aid budget to eight charities.
The theory is that the match attracts new donations. If your aim is helping your chosen charity to raise money, is it a good idea to offer to match other people’s contributions? The rigorous evidence suggests that it is. Continue reading
This article first published in Alliance Magazine.
The first president of eBay, Jeff Skoll, set up his Global Threats Fund in 2010 to ‘make progress against five of the gravest threats to humanity’: climate change, pandemics, water security, nuclear proliferation, and conflict in the Middle East. It closes this month having spent its $100 million, and this week published a report about “what worked, what didn’t work, and what we learned about philanthropy’s role in reducing global threats”. As more foundations ‘spend out’ and publish their learning, we will probably see more such documents. This one is a weird read. Continue reading
If you, like millions of people, want to give this Christmas / holiday season, the following are all good bets, in our view:
Medicins Sans Frontieres: They always seem to be to be where the sh*t is worst, e.g., Yemen, Rakhine province in Myanmar (where the Rohinga live/lived). We’ve never formally analysed them but all our contact with them and literature we’ve seen from them implies that they have their act together. Continue reading