Thursday, May 10, 2012

How To Easily Rate Charities and Non Profits In A Complicated World

“I knocked on the shelter’s doors for hours and no one came out to help me....” -M.W

“How long does it usually take to get help for a fire? It has been 2 weeks since we lost everything.” 


Above are just some of the reactions of what happens when a non-profit or charity goes missing or doesn’t provide the service promised. These are problems of speed, effectiveness, quality of care - things that impact families in crisis at the worst possible moment. Where is one to go when those who are supposed to provide the service are unavailable? Who’s listening?

Charity Navigator, GuideStar, funding and government agencies all create reports on nonprofits, but these reports are made for educated professionals and are generated once or at most a few times a year.

Who's generated reports for the parents who may not be educated in the art of program evaluation?

Some social service clients are asked to fill out customer satisfaction surveys, but honestly, how can someone rate an agency without bias, when the agency is providing a situation critical service?

These are questions that have been on the hearts and minds of all of us at Aunt Bertha. We are working to develop situation responsive solutions for families in need and a framework that eases service delivery for non-profits. To that effect, we wonder, where is the true voice of the people being served?

Oftentimes, the only time you’ll hear the voice of a family that has used social services is in “feel good” testimonial stories or large scale investigations by journalists.

Where is the middle ground?

Not just “this organization saved my life” or “this place is rude and horrible”, but “I had a great appointment with my job coach at Goodwill, things are looking up!” We’re interested in the idea of unprovoked feedback that ranges between amazing, good, fair, and bad.

Those in a position of power need to know. Yes!

Those who are actually seeking a specific service need to know with more urgency and frequency than any other party involved.

Imagine: I work a part time job, have 2 children, and barely making ends meet. I call the food pantry number to check on food availability. No answer. I catch the bus to the local food pantry during the “open and available” hours only to discover that there is no more food available. It takes 1.5 hours to get to the pantry and the next pantry is another 1.5 hour bus ride away.

Wouldn’t it have been easier if I could tell someone in a community setting for the next parent seeking food with limited resources? 

I think so. 

Now, we need to decide how to balance the various interest and issues with this idea of good feedback with hopes of one day integrating rating into Aunt Bertha. 

Do you think evaluating Non-profits is a good or bad thing?

Who should evaluate these do-gooders?


  1. It's a tricky question. I like the idea of evaluating Non-Profits, especially when they are servicing critical needs (like in your example).
    There are people who depend on them in times of need.

    There were plenty of legal hearings in 2007/2008 about fraudulent veteran charities that were spending 80-90% of their donated funds on overhead, but not much came of that.

    In short, rating's should happen. How to do it is another problem. There are charity lists on the BBB website, but as far as rating the effectiveness of them is hard to do. It wold have to be a website review where users could rate them. Perhaps a new piece to your page at Aunt Bertha?

    Cheers @Arron_Daniels

  2. Aaron--

    Thanks a lot for your thoughtful comments. This is a controversial topic - one we've thought a lot about - and before we decide on how we approach our ratings process we want to make sure we get thoughts and opinions on the pros and cons.

    There's a real opportunity to give people the power to make more informed decisions - like any other aspect of their life.

    Anyway, thanks again and feel free to reach out to us if you have any thoughts/opinions/good ideas.

    Take Care,

  3. Thanks for sharing your opinion, Arron. Do you think a review process should be anonymous or registered users?