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Tips and information on effective giving

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Donors

Charities To Support This #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday has become a global phenomenon, driving donations of over $400 million dollars in 2018 alone. A yearly celebration of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it’s a natural time to reflect and kick off the giving season around the world. This year, when considering a worthy nonprofit to donate to on #GivingTuesday, we hope you’ll choose one with measured impact on its community.

We’ve made it easy and highlighted the nonprofits that take the number one spot on each of our Top Lists, representing the most cost-effective charities on ImpactMatters. Explore the list and let us know ...

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Categories: Effective Giving

Donors     Researchers     Nonprofits

Introducing Impact Ratings

We launched ImpactMatters with a simple goal: help donors find high-impact nonprofits. With thousands of charitable nonprofits in the United States covering countless causes, the prospect can be daunting. After lots of tinkering, we have come up with a solution we like — and we hope you will too. Our team analyzed 1,000 nonprofits to calculate how your donation to that nonprofit changes a life. Then, we built an easy-to-use rating system that identifies nonprofits that do the most good.

We encourage you to explore our site:

  • Search for a specific nonprofit or filter nonprofits by cause, program type or ...

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Categories: Product Updates

Researchers

Using Benchmarks to Analyze Cost-Effectiveness

We analyze the impact of nonprofits — that is, the good a nonprofit achieves relative to the cost to achieve it. In this post, we describe how we then make sense of nonprofit impact by making comparisons to a benchmark. We also discuss how we select those benchmarks, and some of the critiques of our benchmarks and benchmarking in general. To see a specific example of benchmarking, we recommend you look at our work on food distribution programs, which are assessed against a relatively straightforward benchmark.

Why benchmark? Impact calculations alone don’t tell us whether the nonprofit is making ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact

Donors

Effective Giving Guide

America is one of the most charitable countries in the world, giving away $400 billion a year. Donors support a rich array of organizations, from large research universities to local homeless shelters.

For many, giving can be challenging. With 1.6 million nonprofits in the United States, choosing just the right one can be a major hurdle.

This guide is here to help. In it, we tackle some of the thornier issues around giving. Our objective is to share with you some tools that you can apply to your everyday giving choices, and hopefully make your next donation a little bit ...

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Categories: Effective Giving

Researchers

What are Disability-Adjusted Life Years?

Comparing disparate health interventions

How would you compare an intervention that prevents one person from going blind to another that saves the life of a child? Saving a life seems like the clear choice, but does that change once you learn that it costs $50 to prevent blindness and $2,000 to save a child’s life? Does it change if saving the life costs $50,000? If preventing blindness costs $2? Where is the line, and how can you come to know it?

We faced these questions at ImpactMatters. Take our list of Top Health Nonprofits. In ranking the impact of nonprofits within the health ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact

Researchers

What Goes Into a Program Methodology?

Selecting and testing an approach to estimating the returns to education

What is the value of a college education? In estimating the impact of postsecondary scholarship programs, we searched the research literature for an answer. Two options emerged. We could apply estimates from studies that used causal identification techniques, such as those by Zimmerman (2014) and Belfield and Bailey (2017). Or, we could adopt the method of studies such as those by Levin et al. (2007) and Carnevale et al. (2011) and take the difference in median earnings between graduates and non-graduates, stratified on demographic characteristics. 

In this blog post, we discuss our choice of strategy and how we checked ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact

Donors

What is Cost-Effectiveness?

Why does it matter?

Cost-effectiveness is often viewed as anathema to the nonprofit sector. We see it as the opposite. Take a simple thought exercise: A program has a limited budget of $100,000 to improve literacy in a community. It can choose between two approaches to do so: one that can boost literacy by a grade level for 100 students ($1,000 per student) and a second that can also boost literacy by a grade level but for 200 students ($500 per student). All else equal, a sensible program administrator would choose the second, as of course it reaches twice as many students. 

This is ...

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Donors

Why Not Overhead?

The overhead ratio is the amount of money a nonprofit spends on administrative and fundraising costs as a proportion of total spending. If a nonprofit has an overhead ratio of 15 percent, for example, it means that for every dollar donated, 85 cents go to running programs while 15 cents cover the nonprofit’s fixed costs. 

Historically, donors and nonprofit raters have resorted to overhead to determine whether a charity is worthy of donation. We get the impulse — we all want our donations to matter, and we feel like they matter more if they're spent on programs rather than overhead. ...

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Donors

The Counterfactual

You are walking down the street to get to an appointment a mile away. Walking there should take you 20 minutes. A friend drives by, sees you, and gives you a lift. Instead of taking 20 minutes, you now get there in 5 minutes. Would you have gotten to your destination even if you didn’t get the ride? Chances are, yes. If you were to measure the impact of your friend's intervention in your journey, they wouldn't get credit for getting you to your destination (since you would have gotten there without them). But — your friend would deserve credit ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact

Donors

Tips for Researching Nonprofits

There are over a million nonprofits in the United States. Even if you have a specific cause in mind (for example, food banks), a Google search can bring up thousands of nonprofits. How do you choose one that will use your donation effectively? In this post, we provide some tips for finding a nonprofit you can feel confident giving to.

These tips are suitable for donors at any stage of their giving:

  • Discovering which causes to support? Start at Choose a Cause.
  • If you’ve homed in on a cause but need guidance on how to find a nonprofit working ...

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Categories: Effective Giving