Inspired by GiveWell's recommendations, we want to identify some of the best giving opportunities that targets the highly cost-effective and pressing poverty-related issues in the Southeast Asia region.
We referred to their criteria to develop our own guiding framework for the EffectiveGiving.Asia's evaluation of charities.
Our Guiding Framework for Charity Evaluation
We have a simple question, "Does this charity's programmes work?"
Often times, we find that charities do a lot of work and sincerely want to help. We believe that most organisations want to create an impact. However, this is not enough. We would like to help donors understand whether their donations are making a difference, in what ways and on what impact levels.
We want to learn if an organisation is working towards achieving their mission.
By communicating with the charities directly, we hope to understand how the charities monitor and evaluate their own programmes such that there is clarity that their programmes work.
We believe that informed giving promotes more giving.
While financial transparency is part of the picture, we do not think that this is the most important expectation about a charity's transparency.
Instead, we place more emphasis on how the organisation work. Is there any feedback mechanism in place to help them improve? How do they work on improving? How do they design their programmes and track that the programmes have an impact (e.g. measures in outputs, outcomes)?
We do not expect that recommended effective charities are 'perfect'. Every organisation has areas to improve in and we hope that by sharing these areas with the public/donors, we can promote the spirit of better transparency measures in the charity sector.
We also seek to look for organisations that are open in sharing about the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of their work. It leads to greater accountability for their decisions and actions; this also allows organisations to take into account the views and opinions of others.
The practice of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is part of everyday programme management and is critical to the effectiveness of an organisation's intervention programme(s).
Monitoring is the systematic assessment of a programme’s performance over time. It involves the ongoing collection and review of data to provide the implementing organisation indications of progress against their programme plans and towards programme objectives.
Evaluations complement ongoing monitoring activities by providing more in-depth, objective assessments of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of programmes at a particular point in time.
At the stage of programme design, it’s important to identify the key outcome indicators that we will track throughout the life of the programme, together with a plan for doing so. Examples of indicators that can be used as part of the M&E are process indicators, which are used to measure the progress of activities against work plans, and outcome indicators, which are used to measure progress towards the changes we hope to achieve.
Besides the interviews with charities, verifying documents such as M&E reports provides evidence of effectiveness of the charities.