advice on giving from elsewhere in the blogosphere
- We're working on something along these lines - a rough generic guide
for how a donor can/should investigate a charity. We probably won't
have a draft before 7/1 (we're focused on our international aid report
until then) but there's a good chance that we will have a draft by
7/30 (for the next meeting of the Alliance for Effective Social
Investing - www.alleffective.org)
On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 4:13 AM, seth.blumberg <sblumberg@...> wrote:
> I happened onto an interesting article at the blog "Good Intentions are not
> Enough" rebutting theWSJ's advice for smarter giving. Perhaps some of you
> have already seen it, or know the blog. Saundra Schimmelpfennig, the
> author, started D-TRAC, an organization to track and hold accountable
> post-tsunami aid in Thailand, and which seems to have evolved into
> ChildTRAC, a charity to provide children with I'm-not-quite-sure-what. Now,
> according to her blog, she's looking to publish a book she's written called
> "Beyond Good Intentions: How to Make Your Donation Dollars Do the Good You
> Anyway, she takes issue with each one of the questions the WSJ suggests
> donors to ask, and suggests that they instead:
> 1) Ask for a copy of last year's audit findings.
> 2) Request the results of several independent evaluations of the aid
> agency's work.
> 3) Request the results of the agency's needs assessment.
> She also gives advice on some resources to learn more about good giving.
> (No need for me to reprint them, but I'll note that Givewell is not among
> them.) She's quite conscious that the above three things may be difficult
> for a donor to understand, but she says that their mere existence and
> frequency will convey useful information.
> I'm less interested in her or the WSJ's specific suggestions (though to
> anyone who is, please comment) than the mission question of how GiveWell
> should prioritize the results of our own research of the best charities to
> give to vs. advising donors how to research for themselves. To a large
> extent, the blog and our explanations of our ratings do serve the latter
> purpose, educating the public and fostering debate. But our focus is, and I
> believe should be (for now), on the former.
> However, the WSJ article mentions a group of friends who pooled together
> their donations and started a group to support local nonprofits in Nebraska,
> and it suggests forming such Giving Circles as one way to donate, even if
> you don't have much money. I wonder how popular such groups are, and if
> they could take off the way CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture
> organizations - which pay in advance for locally-grown produce) have. Isn't
> such a group the genesis story of GiveWell? If we or others lowered the bar
> for the effort and initiative it takes to start a giving circle, perhaps
> they could become more popular. I think American society is becoming more
> socially conscientious of issues like international poverty, so maybe this
> isn't a crazy prediction.
> Also, if we provided such groups with guidelines on how to evaluate
> charities, perhaps they could do some of our research for us, enabling us to
> expand our scope (particularly to domestic charities in many localities). I
> don't know how much of charitable giving is local, but it's probably a lot,
> and it's probably nearly as in need of a better system than international
> Since we already do lots of thinking about how to evaluate charities and
> have experience with how hard it can be to get useful information, making
> guidelines for outsiders would build on existing strengths. (Though it
> would be somewhat labor-intensive.) Such a feature would represent a more
> developed stage of our evaluation methodology, but the exercise
> would probably also help us develop and simplify those guidelines.
> Well, this is another long-term crazy idea, like my last post about
> travelers conducting site visits, but this seems like the right venue to
> share these ideas. Thoughts?