Evaluation: “New Way To Rate Charities Sought”

In today’s WaPo there’s an article about the quest for better metrics for rating charities. The Social Investing Rating Tool would help donors “evaluate whether a charity is worth their money.”

Robert Egger:

“There are commonly accepted metrics to be able to say this is a good corporation or a good restaurant or a good movie, but there are none of those metrics for the nonprofit sector, and there have to be.”

The article doesn’t mention any specific metrics. I’m still wondering what set of metrics will allow me to compare the “worth” of a drug prevention program to that of a voting rights advocacy organization. You can objectively rate any for-profit corporation by its bottom line profitability, in dollars. There is no equivalent for social profit organizations that will help you objectively determine, as the article says, “whether the charity is doing any good.”

I think it’s probably a useful exercise, but that in the end, a nonprofit’s score in any such rating system will say as much about the system’s quirks as it does the effectiveness of the nonprofit.

Your thoughts?