Efficiency of charity organisations
March 6, 2006 1:22 AM   Subscribe

Is there an online resource that indicates the efficiency of individual charity organisations?

By most efficient, I mean those that pass on the largest amount (ie those with the lowest overheads), for each dollar donated.
posted by jedro to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
charity navigator seems to be exactly what you're looking for.
posted by twiggy at 2:48 AM on March 6, 2006

Efficient = low overheads isn't always the case. I used to work for a charity that underpaid staff and made us go cheap on office supplies and it certainly didn't make us more effcient.
posted by k8t at 2:51 AM on March 6, 2006

I agree with k8t - in a way it depends what you mean by "pass on". Most charities don't just act as conduits to pass out cash, but conduct programs which assist people in need. You need people - trained, efficient, professional people, in most cases - to carry those programs out, to teach or counsel or heal. And you need computers, telephones, decent management, pay structures, etc, to make sure those programs are carried out in the most efficient way.

Having said that, Guidestar provides the info you're looking for, for US charities anyway.
posted by andraste at 3:09 AM on March 6, 2006

Psst.. there is a trick we use to lower overheads. You collect money for years and dont use it all on charitable works. You invest this pot of cash and use the interest to pay for current overheads. You then announce with a big fanfair that 99p in £1 donated goes direct to those in need. Shoot to top of table; still pay CEO 2K a week; still take journalists out for long lunches to discuss world hunger.
posted by priorpark17 at 3:28 AM on March 6, 2006

Weird...I remember that when a similar question was asked the same sites were linked and generally provided the answers you were looking for. Now it looks like GuideStar requires payment for their analysis and Charity Navigator doesn't have the lists that I recall it having.

Anyway...I have to echo what the others have said and add: ratios don't tell the whole story. For example, by all metrics Habitat For Humanity International is hugely inefficient with their donations. But, local chapters of HFH are often ranked very high in the same lists. And guess where most of the mission work is done: at the local level.

Does that mean that HFHI is bad organization? Hardly. The work that they do allows the local chapters to better serve the mission and be more efficient with their donations. (Incidentally, the tsunami and hurricane relief programs are notable exceptions to HFHI's poor record. A much larger percentage of all donations to relief for the recent disasters is going directly to providing the relief.)

My point is that if you want to give wisely, you should consider local chapters before national or international organizations.
posted by achmorrison at 5:26 AM on March 6, 2006

In the UK all charities with an income above GBP10,000 must submit accounts. You can view them on the Charity Commission's site.

For bespoke information, New Philanthropy Capital does exactly what you want, but in detail. It was formed by a group of investment analysts and consultants and produces research reports on entire sectors and guides on how the different charities are performing.
posted by patricio at 8:00 AM on March 6, 2006

This page also has a few interesting links - look under "Evaluation"
posted by patricio at 8:27 AM on March 6, 2006

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