This article first published in Charity Finance magazine. A PDF copy is here.
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation released a report about its experience of providing core funding. Entitled Insights on Core Funding, one of its aims is to “provide the organisations doing the work [with] the ammunition to continue to make the case for what they need to thrive” – in other words, to encourage other funders (and presumably also non-institutional donors such as wealthy individuals) to give better.
This joins many other reports and documents that have made that case – including my own book, It Ain’t What You Give, It’s The Way That You Give It and the 2009 Institute of Philanthropy report Supportive to the Core: Why Unrestricted Funding Matters. Yet, if we are really to reduce the harmful practice of restricted funding, we need to be more sophisticated than simply producing reports about not doing it. Reducing restricted funding involves an exercise in behaviour change, and we should treat it as such. Continue reading
This article first published in the Financial Times in February 2018.
Much the same issues apply now to organisations declining funds from the Sackler Trust.
Among the many issues to have arisen from the FT’s exposé of the Presidents Club is whether charities that received donations from the controversial event did the right thing by returning the money.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity was one of the first to announce it would return funds promised to it from this year’s dinner, as well as previous years, citing the “wholly unacceptable nature of the event”. The charity said it was “shocked to hear of the behaviour” and would “never knowingly accept donations raised in this way”. Continue reading
A version of this article published in the Financial Times in January 2019
My financial resolution for this year – as flagged by FT Money earlier this month – is to review the charities in my will.
I wrote my will a while ago in some haste, and chose the charities in the way that I suspect many people do: I listed the causes that I care about, then wrote down the first charities working on those issues that came to mind.
This is a pretty rubbish process, as we shall see. Continue reading
With Keystone Accountability, we recently worked for a funder who was relatively new to knowledge management. We created for them a ‘primer’ to introduce some of the key concepts, and are publishing it because we feel, and hope, that the material is useful for a wider audience of funders and implementers.
Download the document here.
We also published an introduction to monitoring & evaluation: downloadable here.
Giving Evidence has been mapping the existing research around strategic and operational management of charitable and philanthropic activities. We are today (2nd July 2019) launching a ‘review copy’ of the findings, which you can download here.
This sits alongside a separate project which we have done to understand ‘demand’ for further research into charities and philanthropy: that was a large-scale consultation exercise, detailed here, asking charities and donors to list and prioritise the topics on which they would like more research (/ evidence / data). The results of that ‘demand’ study are here.
The press release summarises the findings of the two studies. Continue reading
This talk explains what evidence-based giving is, why it matters, and how it needn’t be soooo complicated. Even the first 30 seconds here show why minimising administrative costs to keep an aid programme ‘cheap’ is a bad idea.
This talk was given in Vienna (notice how Caroline had accidentally turned up basically wearing the Austrian flag…), which is why bits of it are in German:
The main points were:
- Why should you care about evidence?
Because evidence (alone) will save you from wasting your money / time, and possibly making a problem worse
- On what do you need evidence?
- Where is the problem and why is it there?
- What is effective at solving it?
- Most charities shouldn’t do evaluations
- Use what already exists, esp. systematic reviews
- If no decent evidence, either do something else, or fund the production of it. Don’t guess!
Watch more about doing evidence-based giving…>
Whom should you support this Christmas (or in your will)?
As we’ve discussed here before, the data on charities’ effectiveness is really ropey, so this question is harder than it should be.
In international development, there are some reliable independent analysts which recommend high-performing charities. The Life You Can Save (disclosure: in which I am involved), founded by the ethicist Peter Singer, recommends 21 charities, each of which either delivers work based on decent evidence, or creates new evidence about what works. Continue reading
This article first published in the Financial Times in April 2018.
The global ‘gig economy’ is awash with the downtrodden and effective campaigners
The council wanted them out. The Grand Parade area in front of Cape Town’s City Hall needed to be clear for filming one day last month, so the market traders who have their stalls there would need to disappear. There have been traders on that stretch of ground for hundreds of years and, for them, a day without trading is a day without income.
But they had taken a lesson from the previous month. In February, they were to be removed for the then-president Jacob Zuma’s “state of the nation” address, as the Grand Parade area might have been needed for a helicopter landing.
In the end the whole plan changed because of Mr Zuma’s resignation. By March, though, the Grand Parade United Traders Association and its member stallholders knew about their legal rights, and, by showing that the council had not followed “due process”, had the clearance halted. Continue reading
This article first published in the Financial Times.
Break out the champagne. Somebody’s finally done it. I’ve been saying for a while that funders should investigate empirically whether their “help” for non-profit organisations actually does help. It is not guaranteed: some funders create so much work for non-profits that their “support” is in fact a net drain.
GlobalGiving has been called the “eBay of international development”: a website which lists vetted non-profits, improving their visibility to prospective donors, and also offers them training of various types. A quasi-funder, it has recently investigated whether and how its support helps non-profits, and published the results. It is a prospective study and, to my knowledge, the first ever. Let’s hope that many other donors follow suit. Continue reading
With Keystone Accountability, we recently worked for a funder who was relatively new to monitoring / evaluation / learning. We created for them a ‘primer’ to introduce some of the key concepts a ‘primer’ to introduce some of the key concepts, and are publishing it because we feel, and hope, that the material is useful for a wider audience of funders and implementers.
It is designed to explain what monitoring is, and what evaluation is, and how they differ. We structured our thinking into a four-level framework. This simply splits out the various questions about monitoring and evaluation (note that, as the document explains, monitoring and evaluation are two completely different things, even though they are often conflated):
- Level 1: dimensions of the grant; inputs (such as grant size) and grantee activities
- Level 2: tracking changes around the grantee, e.g., increase in number of jobs, change in grantee partner revenue, number of workshops run
- Level 3: evaluating grantees: i.e., establishing what of those changes result from (i.e., are attributable to) the grantee partner
- Level 4: evaluating a funder: i.e., establishing what of those changes result from (i.e., are attributable) to the funder
We present these four levels as a ladder, because the issues at Level 1 are simpler than those at Level 2, and so on, both in terms of the types of data / analysis needed and the conceptual complexity.
Download the primer here.Why charities should do much less evaluation–>
Various types of monitoring, evaluation and other information that funders need (2nd half of this talk) –>