Category – Understanding Impact

Tips and information on effective giving

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

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

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

Protecting Yourself From Scams

Chances are that you’ve been at the end of a scam phone call. With the rise of VoIP and internet-based calling platforms, it’s never been easier for someone to try prying personal information from you. While rare, there are groups out there that will even pose as charities to attempt to fraudulently raise money over the phone or by sending phishing emails. Sometimes they do so without the nonprofit knowing anything. With the giving season fast approaching, how can you protect yourself? 

Here are our tips for avoiding fraud when donating.

1. Don’t give money over the phone

Pretty simple. ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact