Despite a growing number of project evaluations, there is virtually no systemic evaluation of the impact of NGOs, which are facing some of the same incentives as official agencies to emphasise observable effort rather than focus on less observable results. Any information on results that is publicly shared is heavily biased towards success stories. As Roger Riddell notes in his recent book, Does Foreign Aid Really Work?, ‘regrettably, there has always been and remains to this day an almost complete absence of data and information with which to assess the wider and systemic impact of NGO development interventions and activities’...Imagine a world in which an effective marketplace for giving existed to ease this complexity. There was publicly-available evidence on what works and the impact of charitable, as well as private and state, projects. There was also evidence on which giving practices generated the best results. Donors were not frustrated by the lack of information or overwhelming complexities of the system. Rather they were galvanised and inspired to support life-changing initiatives. And they could see the impact that their donations had made. Glimpses of this world exist. Much more is needed. Donors need information on which organisations and projects are tackling different issues in different countries. They also need evidence of the results of these activities. Online information sites and giving exchanges are beginning to bridge the information gap. But they are fragmented and, in most instances, do not show evidence of results.
Saturday, 22 March 2008
Philanthropy without borders
New Philanthropy Capital have just published a new report for private international develoment donors. Part of their advice is that donors ensure their money follows projects that evaluate their outcomes. I found the following excerpt extremely compelling: