Key questions to ask any charity
There are a number of key questions to ask each Charity before making a donation (with thanks to http://goodintents.org/ on whose work these are based)
- Can the organisation clearly communicate what it is and what it does?
If an organisation is unclear in explaining its mission and programmes, it probably is also unclear in designing and delivering those programmes.
- Can the organisation tell you the progress it has made (or is making) toward its goal?
It is not enough to merely be concerned with a problem, or to have good intentions. Donors should always ask organisations what they have actually done to make the issue they are confronting better, and what successes they have achieved. Good organisations have clear, quantifiable goals to measure their impact, and would welcome the opportunity to share their strategies and successes with you.
- Do the organisation’s programmes make sense to you?
If you support the mission of an organisation, ask yourself if its programmes also make sense. Are the organisation’s activities really the most sensible, and are they working toward a result in a way that seems rational and productive to you? Does the organisation prioritise short-term solutions, or is it looking to make long-term and structural changes?
- Does the organisation apply professional standards to its work?
Just because an organisation is working on a not-for-profit basis does not mean it should not act professionally. What standards does the organisation apply to its work? How does it demonstrate that it actually applies those standards?
- Can you trust the charity?
The overwhelming majority of charities in this country are responsible, honest, and well-managed. And that is only right. Don’t support a charity until you feel comfortable with it. Good charities will encourage you to ask questions.
- Are you willing to make a long-term commitment to the organisation?
To really make a difference, giving to charity should be a long-term commitment. Good giving is motivated by altruism, knowledge, and perspective, and is not a knee-jerk reaction. If you really want to support an organisation, then support it through thick and thin.
- How does the organisation coordinate its work with others, and how does it ensure that the beneficiaries have a say in its decision-making?
The ultimate judge of an organisation’s effectiveness are the people who are the intended beneficiaries. What is the charity doing to ensure that it knows those people’s real needs? How does the organisation relate to their priorities, and to other (governmental) programmes to assist them?
- Does the NGO use overly simplistic or sensationalist public communications?
Do the NGO’s publications comply with the NGO Code on Images & Messages? Or does it stereotype and generalise to the extent that it distorts the truth?
- Where can I go to find out more?
- This blog entry, about why it is not a good idea to judge NGOs by their admin costs.
- This set of tips developed by Dóchas and Philanthropy Ireland
- How to help in times of disaster: www.HowYouCanHelp.ie for lots of information of what makes good emergency aid
- How to recognise an effective NGO
- Might it be time to stop talking about NGO Administration Costs? (April 2012)
- Why NOT to use overheads ratios as a way to compare NGOs (March 2010)
- Aid myths busted (May 2012)
- In defence of NGO overhead costs – https://dochasnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/in-defence-of-ngo-overhead-costs/
- Key questions to ask any charity – https://dochasnetwork.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/key-questions-to-ask-any-charity/
- Good intentions are not enough – http://goodintents.org/
- Where to get donor advice – http://philanthropy.ie/index.php/philanthropy/want_to_give/
On Charity Regulation:
- Charities must ensure society does not lose faith in them (Irish Examiner, 2012)
- Charities’ real regulator is the general public (Irish Times, 2013)
- Regulating charities (2013)
Entry filed under: NGOs. Tags: Charities, Charity, Disaster, Disasters, Donations, Emergencies, Emergency Aid, Funding, Good Giving, Humanitarian Aid, Impact, Irish NGOs, NGOs, Overseas aid, Smart Aid, Transparency.