Category Archives: Evaluation

The Decline Effect & “Proven” Nonprofit Interventions

One of the great buzzwords of the effective philanthropy movement is the idea of “proven effective” programs. Since so many nonprofit programs are never tested and are based on ideas that have little research behind them, it makes sense to encourage the funding and deploying of programs that have proven to be effective. While sensible, […]

The Problem with Impact & Organizational Analysis in Philanthropy

Via xkcd (hattip: @CDEgger) Sometimes a comic says it all.

Tax Protection for Social Results, Not Social Missions

Lucy Bernholz had another though provoking post last week in which she suggested there should be some sort of “consumer protection” oversight of nonprofits and social businesses. “From the donors’ perspective we need something more than metrics and annual reports that cements the organization’s commitment to social good. Nonprofits have typically relied on (been given […]

How to Evaluate a Charity

Over the holidays I wrote a blog post about how to pick a great nonprofit to donate to with extremely minimal work. That post spurred Lucy Bernholz to write two posts (part one and part two) about her effort to help a 10-year-old pick a nonprofit to support. Lucy’s posts were great because out of […]

Explicit vs Tacit Knowledge for Impact

This is a guest post by Ian Thorpe. Ian writes the new blog "KM on a dollar a day". He has worked for over 20 years in the international development field and is currently Senior Information and Knowledge Manager with UNICEF. Ian’s blog is written in a personal capacity and does not necessarily represent the […]

Do-It-Yourself Guide: How to Evaluate a Charity

For all the talk about overhead expense ratios being a bad way to decide if a charity is any good, there aren’t many tools available that help donors do better evaluations. There are organizations like Philanthropedia, GiveWell, Root Cause, New Philanthropy Capital and GreatNonprofits, which offer information, but as a group they only cover a […]

5 Questions to Ask Every Nonprofit Before Making A Donation

This is my latest column for the Chronicle of Philanthropy. You will find the full archive of my past columns here. Probing Questions All Donors Should Ask Before Making a Significant Gift By Sean Stannard-Stockton | Chronicle of Philanthropy One of the holy grails of nonprofit evaluation is to be able to compare nonprofits with […]

Creating the Next Nurse-Family Partnership

During the Social Innovation Fund design process, I argued that the goal of the Fund should be to support the “next Nurse-Family Partnership”. I was arguing that given the extremely limited number of nonprofits with rigorous evidence showing their programs work, funders should focus on supporting organization which were most likely to build strong evidence […]

Outputs, Outcomes & Impact Part II

Read Part I here. Yesterday I wrote about the importance of nonprofits tracking their outputs, outcomes and impact to the best of their ability. Reader Nick Temple of the School for Social Entrepreneurs commented: “[Nonprofits should see outputs, outcomes and impact]… not just as ‘reporting’ to donors, philanthropists and investors of all types, but also […]

Getting Results: Outputs, Outcomes & Impact

  Professional philanthropy, like all professions, has built a special language to describe its work. This sort of language can be used to more precisely discuss issues of importance to a field or it can be jargon that obscures meaning and serves to identify professionals to each other while excluding “outsiders”. Most donors, regardless of […]