How should nonprofit organizations be evaluated? You tell us!

Did you know that approximately 83% of the nonprofit organizations in the United States have operating budgets of less than $1 m?

These are the very organizations operating within your communities – providing free health care to the uninsured, taking up the slack where public education fails, feeding the hungry and homeless when no one else will, providing housing and support for abused women and children, enriching lives through the arts, providing legal assistance to those without a voice … and so much more.

These organizations provide the glue that holds our communities together in an increasingly fractured society.

But charity ranking systems, such as Charity Navigator, often base their ratings solely on “overhead” ratios – AND Charity Navigator only reviews 5,000 of the 1.1 million nonprofit organizations in the United States.

Yet well-intentioned individuals, wanting to make a difference, often rely on these systems when making decisions as to who will receive their donations.

The result? The big get bigger and the organizations doing the vital work of holding your own community together get lost in the shuffle.

I’m asking you to join the new “Supporters for Effective Community-Based Philanthropy” Facebook Group.

Then, read the document “Ready to Choose a Community-Based Organization to Support?” here.

Learn why overhead costs are a critical and always downplayed component of operating a nonprofit (imagine running your business without employees or supplies) and how a “one size fits all” doesn’t apply to nonprofit organizations any more than it would apply to a business.

Then make your feedback known directly on the “Supporters for Effective Community-Based Philanthropy” Facebook page before April 30th.

4 Responses to “How should nonprofit organizations be evaluated? You tell us!”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pamela Grow and Pamela Grow, Nancy Iannone. Nancy Iannone said: RT @PamelaGrow: The truth about where your charitable dollars go: #nonprofit […]

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by NancyIannone: RT @PamelaGrow: The truth about where your charitable dollars go: #nonprofit…

  3. Mazarine says:

    Hey pamela,

    I’m not on Facebook, so I’m going to make a comment here.

    We do need better methods to evaluate nonprofits, and it’s hard, because there’s so much noise in the system when it comes to deciding if a nonprofit is actually fulfilling their mission.

    What I think needs to happen is that nonprofits with a specific mission (such as domestic violence) across a given state or region need to come together and decide what would qualify success at meeting their mission. Is it less deaths related to domestic violence? Less reports to crisis line of domestic violence? What qualifies success? And then reach for that, together, instead of fighting for funding separately as usual.

    Looking at the budget is not enough, it’s true. Neither is throwing up your hands and saying you don’t know. There are ways to define success, even if it’s just in how many people you touch.


  4. Roger Carr says:

    The size/percentage of overhead is no indication as to how effective the organization is. Unfortunately, an accurate, accepted measure of effectiveness is difficult to produce. In my opinion, volunteering with the organization is the most effective way a donor can make a personal determination as to the effectiveness and values of the nonprofit organization.