The Charity Sleuths

What the Intelligent Giving researchers are uncovering, and whose turn it is to make the tea

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A singular problem

Sherlock Holmes summed it up: "Chance has put in our way a most singular problem, and its solution is its own reward."

The problem that chance has put in our way is: the public cannot possibly judge which charity might be better than the next one. How do you know who to support?

Welcome to the diary of Intelligent Giving's three researchers - Neill, Adam and Dave (and a supporting cast of volunteers) - as we pore over the websites and Annual Reports of England and Wales' favourite charities.

Our aim: to offer the public, for the first time, an independent categorisation and evaluation of charities' reports and finances. We won't promise to find you the best charities but we'll certainly give you a good steer.

Our target is to review 700 charities before the year is out. And at a time that seems right beforehand we will launch our website, We have reviewed 150 so far. Will we make it before December 31 '06? What will we find? Astonishing efficiency? Egregious duplication? Black holes? Giant hounds?

"Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!"



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the public cannot possibly judge which charity might be better than the next one"

what leads you to believe that this is true?

what criteria will you be using to judge 'better'?

3:25 pm  
Anonymous Stuart said...

You don't have a very high opinion of the public do you?

3:42 pm  
Anonymous Dave said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comment. Ask ten people which is the best charity in any particular sector and if you consistently get the same answer, uttered with confidence, then we might be wrong.

As for the criteria, we will use a range, from which the visitor can choose (admin costs, incidentally, is not one of them). We will never proclaim a charity 'the best'. However using your own criteria you will be able to find the charity that most impresses you. It will be a personal choice.

Stuart, I thnk judging charities is too time-consuming for the public to do. They don't have any guidance or tools. We hope to be able to provide these.

4:34 pm  
Anonymous Stuart said...

The basis for this administrative exercise seems flawed. Presumably you would have to agree that judging companies is too time-consuming for the public so if they want to buy something where do they buy it from?
The answer of course is that it depends on what you want to buy and on so many other things that an overall "guide" to which companies to buy from is entirely useless.
I'm sorry, I am a reasonable person, but your idea, as interesting as it might be to you, will not achieve what you claim.
By the way, my original statement that you don't have a very high opinion of the public remains in view of your answer.

9:06 am  
Blogger The Intelligent Giving Team said...

Hi Stuart. You will be familiar with Which? magazine. It advises on the best companies, services and products, It's very popular and successful (and it started in our offices as it happens).

As for the "public": we find that private sector workers have as much appetite for learning about the voluntary sector as voluntary sector workers have for learning about the private sector. We're all the same really.

5:44 pm  
Blogger B1RDIE Num Num said...

Would you, thereafter, be able to recommend options of consolidation of basic overheads across various charities to provide a more cost-effective (donation-effective?) performance for these?

The Num Num...

7:22 pm  
Blogger Jason King said...

Neill, Adam and Dave. Who are you? What are your backgrounds and your affiliations? Why should we trust what you say? How is Intelligent Giving funded? Independence is admirable but so is transparency.

And what mechanisms will you put in place for charities to dispute your findings?

10:05 am  
Blogger The Intelligent Giving Team said...

Hi Jason - we are curious donors with a year's research and several helpful charity pundits advising us. Sorry I can't give you more detail but we're exceptionally busy with useability research for the next few weeks. Be assured we will devote many pages on the site to who we are, how we're funded (privately) etc. We'll even have our own annual report for all to dissect. Also charities will be able to dispute our findings on their own review page, prominently. And there'll be a comments facility on almost every page. We'll actively invite discussion.

6:33 am  
Blogger The Intelligent Giving Team said...

Dear b1rdie - we won't be encouraging comparision on figures alone. We'll be stressing transparency more. If you're good we'll give you a preview of the site prior to launch..

6:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you checked out the RNLI,I have.
They take 48 million pounds from all the donations
To run the business.
8 million of this goes into the pension fund and when you consider the real heroes get nothing for risking their lives
I think it's a disgrace.

6:35 pm  

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