GuideStar’s new effort is laudable; but could be flawed.

The Outcomes Observer
GuideStar has announced the coming availability of a new level of participation for nonprofits, something called the Platinum Level.  The intention behind it, the creation of a tool to bust the Overhead Myth, is laudable. For too long, the notion has dogged the sector that anything a charity spends beyond “program expenses,” assumed by most people to be direct benefits for clients, was bad.  This led to numerous artificial and harmful practices as charities contorted themselves, their reporting, and their budgets to appear to spend the overwhelming proportion of their dollars on client benefit.  Somehow, the idea grew that charities neither needed to nor should spend anything on equipment, competitive salaries, training, networking, or the many other things that can contribute to a successful organization. It is notable that GuideStar…
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Head vs. Heart Based Giving

Penna's Perch
Ken Berger and I respond here to a piece Ruth McCambridge had in the Nonprofit Quarterly.... Ruth McCambridge’s December 5th article on the Nonprofit Quarterly’s Nonprofit Newswire page, “Donors Give LESS When More Analytic Say Researchers,” is certainly provocative; but it misses a serious point and could give donors, both large and small, the wrong impression. Reviewing a recent Boston Globe article, McCambridge reports that certain research supports the notion that “the more individual contributors think about their donation the less they are likely to give.”  This, McCambridge concedes, “of course, flies in the face of logic for those who encourage individuals to give more ‘wisely,’ recommending research about an organization’s financial ratios and outcomes.”   The article ends with the conclusion that “encouraging donors to give to the most efficient,…
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Why Outcomes?

The Outcomes Observer
On December 12th I will be presenting at the inaugural session of the Nonprofit Texas Leadership Institutes in Austin, sponsored by the Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations and the Center for Community-based and Nonprofit Organizations of Austin Community College.  Preparatory to that event, Barry Silverberg, President of TANO, asked me to pen an article for the Institute’s first newsletter.  The following is that article   Why Outcomes? Why should the nonprofit sector change what it has been doing for well over 100 years?   That she was feeling pressured and under a tremendous strain was readily apparent: you could read it in the lines on her face and in her tired, tired eyes.  Not thirty days earlier the county executive had announced the unilateral cancellation of all contracts not deemed…
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Why?

Penna's Perch
In this inaugural edition of our blog, maybe the first question we ought to answer is Why do this; why launch yet another blog in a space that is already overwhelmed with competing opinions and a lack of consensus on so many basic issues? One reason is precisely because of the multiplicity of opinions regarding outcomes, the need for them in the work of nonprofits (and government, and philanthropy…).  On one side, there are those who suggest that because of the historical lack of a focus on outcomes, there is scant evidence that the work of most nonprofits has made any discernible difference at all on the multiple problems these organizations exist to address. Additionally, there are some who suggest that those pushing for outcomes in the work of nonprofits…
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