Archive for December, 2010

evaluating charities, part II

[Note: I started this post a number of months ago; some details might now be out of date.]

In a past post, I discussed sites that evaluate charities based primarily on financial metrics.  Before leaving that topic entirely, I wanted to to also point out that Guidestar has a bunch of information about charities, their structures, and their finances.  You can access the tax records from the past several years for many charities.  They help you verify an organization’s nonprofit status and do other research into organizations.  The site seems to be mostly aimed at people working in the nonprofit sector, large philanthropic organizations, businesses, and academic researchers.  It’s kind of clunky and ugly and harder to use than some tools, sometimes some data is sparse or missing, and they charge money for some services.  But if you want access to a lot more information directly from the company about their structure and finances, I’d check here first.  This may also be useful in using The Charity Rater, described below.

Moving on to other ways to evaluate charities aside from financial metrics, in the rest of this post I will be exploring GiveWell (based on empirical evaluation of results!), GreatNonprofits (kind of like Yelp), Philanthropedia (expert-based),  and The Charity Rater.  If you know of other charity evaluating organizations or metrics that I haven’t discussed in either post, let me know, and I’ll cover it in a follow up.

» Continue reading “evaluating charities, part II”

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is it better to donate to individuals or organizations?

Giving directly to individuals or to communities removes a lot of bureaucratic overhead.  But sometimes NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have expertise and resources that are necessary — or at least helpful in order to spend money well.  NPR’s Planet Money podcast recently looked at two cases of direct donations in Haiti. In one case direct donations to a community cause (school improvement) ended disastrously, but in another case (donations to a savvy wholesaler who’d been supporting her family for years before the earthquake), it seems as if an organization would have only gotten in the way of a mostly very good thing. In both cases, the results were complex and interesting.

Here’s the most recent report on all these cases: What your $3000 bought in Haiti.  This podcast summarizes and refers back to these earlier ones:

How foreign aid is hurting Haitian farmers: the initial description of the community that needed school improvement, prior to donations

Small business, big debts in Haiti: the initial description of Yvrose Jean Baptiste, wholesaler of chicken necks and other parts

For $3860, a new life: the follow up to the Yvrose story, post-donations

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