The Association of Nonprofit Analysts

New Philanthropy Capital is a the leading charity research group in the UK. They offer research on charities, advice for donors and advisors, and tools that help charities measure their own results. They do great work and selfishly I wish they would open US offices and start looking at US nonprofits.

New Philanthropy Capital gets that “field building” is just as important as “firm building” at this point in the market formation cycle of the social investing paradigm. To that end, NPC is working on building an Association of Nonprofit Analysts.

From NPC’s description of the concept:

Nonprofit analysis is a diverse and fragmented field:

  • It is done by all sorts of people (such as grantmakers, venture philanthropists, auditors) …
  • … who analyse all sorts of organisations (such as charities, social enterprises, credit unions) …
  • … looking at many different facets (such as finances, management, effectiveness)…
  • … using many different methods (such as SROI, balanced scorecard, social audit).

This is not a unified field, and it is too diverse and inconsistent to be called a profession. Outside the third sector, there is little awareness that nonprofit analysis even takes place, and outside their own organisations, there is little support for people who assess third sector organisations.

The Association of Nonprofit Analysts (ANA) could address this need. It would be an international organisation made up of individuals and organisations dedicated to the analysis of nonprofits.

By creating a network of practitioners, the Association would help to create a basis for nonprofit analysis to be recognised as a profession. In the long term, this could mean the Association serving as an accrediting body.

The initiative is inspired by the idea that by enabling analysts to share best practice, they will be able to help nonprofits to make the biggest possible impact. By enabling analysts to learn from each other and promoting the use of standard, useful, powerful analytical tools, the organisational analysis of nonprofits should become more effective, which in turn means that nonprofits themselves should strive to be more effective.

To kick start the Association, NPC is hosting a conference in London on May 19 that I’m deeply disappointed to say I can’t attend this year.

The event will draw together professionals from a range of fields to discuss the subject of nonprofit analysis, and to explore the possibility of creating the Association of Nonprofit Analysts. The conference will have three aims:

  • To create excitement and energy around the analysis of nonprofits as a discipline;
  • To start a journey towards agreed principles for analysing effectiveness;
  • To nurture a group of analysts who will become the core of the new Association.

This is the first conference that we know of that is dedicated to exploring nonprofit analysis, drawing individuals together from all over the world and from all sorts of organisations. It is an exciting opportunity for anyone who is interested in assessing charities and other third sector organisations, and it is an important first step towards creating an Association of Nonprofit Analysts.

I hope you get a chance to attend the conference! At least I get to see the folks at NPC since they’re members of the newly formed Alliance for Effective Social Investing (of which I’m a committee co-chair).