Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Debating the Realities of Ranking Charities

William Schambra
Ken Berger
On March 20th, I debated William Schambra (Director of the Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal at The Hudson Institute) on the whether it is appropriate to measure the performance of charities and, by extension, rate them. This 80 minute debate occurred during the Closing Plenary at the Grant Managers Network's 8th Annual Conference. You can view a recording of the debate and access my PowerPoint slides below.

Ken Berger Debate from Charity Navigator on Vimeo.


Toni Goldfarb said...

Ken, I agree that many charities are already responding to the CN-3 initiative. Just over the past month, I've received reports from 3groups that, for the first time, spelled out (often usin graphs, photos, etc.) to detail the results of their work.
Listening to this debate, I was surprised at your opponent's claim that access to more data could "shake people's faith in non-profit groups." If new data actually did that, I think it would be a good thing, making people stop donating to groups with poor results, and start donating to similar groups with an objective record of results. After all, Charity Navigator's reports for most charities already include lists of similar groups with better ratings.
Just as a side note, I've found that some of those "similar groups" lists include charities that are totally unrelated to the initial group. Suggestion: have someone review these lists.

Ken Berger said...


Thanks for your great insights and the good news about charities finally sharing more meaningful data on their results. As to the problem with similar group comparability, we rely upon IRS codes that categorize the groups. There is currently an effort underway to create a better coding system (a voluntary, non-IRS initiative) that is more accurate. We are anxiously awaiting the results of that effort and hope to use that alternative system in comparing groups in the future..