Archive for June, 2010

Evaluating charities, part I

I’ve been wanting to post for a while about the different sites out there that evaluate charities and help donors decide how to best spend their money.  I’ve finally done the research, and I think I’m actually going to split this into at least two posts — possibly a longer series.  In Part I, I’m going to discuss three of the oldest and best known charity evaluators, all of which grade organizations in large part according to financial metrics.  I’m also going to discuss the controversy over using such metrics, and the pros and cons of these sites.  In Part II, I’m going to discuss some newer sites that are finding other ways to evaluate nonprofits.

I’m going to start by talking up front about the controversy involved with using financial metrics, because it’s interesting and it’s a good thing to keep in mind when reading about the sties below.  All of the evaluators I’m about to discuss measure, among other things, the amount of an organization’s income that goes toward administrative overhead.  The idea is that organizations should be efficient, and should be spending their money on the cause rather than large salaries, unnecessarily expensive resources, and general bloat.  While this idea seems reasonable up front, it has a number of critics.

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