Evaluating Charity Effectiveness
13 August 2013 at 9:33 am
The publisher of a new social conscience magazine aimed at wealthy donors says it’s time to rethink the effectiveness of some charities in Australia.
The claim comes as part of the launch of the third annual publication The Difference magazine which includes a report measuring the nation’s social health based on 11 national indicators.
The Difference founder and social entrepreneur Nic Bolto says the report paints a grim picture with eight out of 11 social indicators, including drugs and alcohol; long term unemployment; re-offending and child abuse showing that they are worse since last year’s report.
Of the 11 key indicators assessed this year, only two improved from last year: homelessness and suicide. One indicator – food insecurity – remained unchanged while the remaining ones went backwards. The indicators that are worse off are youth unemployment, re-offending, drugs and alcohol, child abuse, high school completion, children learning, children without an employed parent and long term unemployment.
Bolto says the annual report card on Australian social health has been created to help people better understand the connection between need and giving and ensure that their valuable charity dollars go to where they can make a real difference.
He says he was saddened but not surprised that the findings are even worse, as it portrays those in the community who suffer from issues of abuse or neglect.
“With 56,600 charities competing for our time and money and many of the social problems that they set out to address actually getting worse, people wonder what they can do to help.
“We have undertaken an extensive charity evaluation process to find charities in each of the 11 indicators who are actually making ‘the difference’ and we have worked closely with them to present the report,” he said.
It also urges people to assess the connection between need and giving, in a bid to ensure their donations are going to areas where they are most required.
Bolto says the goal of the magazine is to bring the issues, the people and solutions together in one place.
He says the magazine is aimed at high-net worth individuals, encouraging Australia’s richest people to help address issues of poverty and disadvantaged facing the nation’s poorest.
Bolto says the second half of the publication highlights the ‘transformations’ possible by showing the vision of the selected charities and their respective prevention programs.
The 11 charities he chose are: Odyssey House, Good Beginnings, Safe Future Foundation, Wesley Mission Victoria, Second Bite, Fitted for Work, Melbourne City Mission, On the Line, ACSO, Whitelion and Project New Dawn.
Following many years of analysis and comparison to international benchmarks and models, he says The Difference interrogated charity prospects across these 10 domains…impact, prevention process, transparency, influence, people managers, financial control, responsiveness, risk analysis, public relations and corporate governance.
“While most of the indicators are in fact worse off, the respective projects from the eleven charities show hope and positive outcomes that are possible with action that is prevention focused and geared toward our best thought leaders,” he said.
“The rethinking of effectiveness is not about charity bashing but understanding a charity’s life cycle and empowering donors with enough information about an organisation being in the right place at the right time,” he said.
“In the last two years, donations have left the welfare and disability sector behind in a rush towards the arts.
“This signals that there needs to be a better expectation of the importance of social giving."
Bolto says there are a range of measures that determine charity effectiveness.
Simon McKeon, philanthropist and 2011 Australian of the Year, said The Difference makes an important contribution to informing people about the health of our community.
“This year, we're confronted with a scorecard that is less than satisfactory. But rather than finding this dispiriting, or hiding our heads in the sand, let's remember that this is about real situations – and real people,” he said.
“Our only response must be to consider carefully what is being reported…and then move forward with passion and commitment to make 'The Difference'!"
Bolto said he hopes that The Difference will help people who are thinking about giving to want to support these charities who offer lasting change to individuals and our social health record.
The Difference 2013, will be launched today in Melbourne by Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO.