One Tree Planted
Impact Rating

One Tree Planted

Top Climate Change Nonprofit

Impact: $100 offsets one year of personal carbon emissions.

Reforestation meets the benchmark for high cost-effectiveness. The nonprofit offsets a year of personal carbon emissions for less than 75% of the social cost of carbon averted.

Note: The impact of this program may not be representative of the entire operation of One Tree Planted.

Methodology

Governance: Passes checks

Mission

One Tree Planted is a global reforestation organization that plants trees around the world to help the environment.

Cause

Climate Change

Rated Program

Reforestation

Location

15 countries across the globe

Donations processed by the nonprofit.

Cause

Climate Change

Rated Program

Reforestation

Location

15 countries across the globe

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Rated Program

Program

Reforestation

Activities

One Tree Planted plants trees in forests that have been depleted.

Program Type

Tree Planting

Beneficiaries Served

General public

Geography

15 countries across the globe

Outcomes: Changes in people's lives. They can be caused by a nonprofit.

Costs: The money spent by nonprofits and their partners and beneficiaries.

Impact: The cost to achieve an outcome.

Cost-effectiveness: A judgment as to whether the cost was "worth" the outcome.

Outcomes

Outcome Metric

A year of personal carbon emissions offset.

To calculate impact, we estimate how many outcomes the nonprofit caused.

Data Source

Output data collected during the program. One Tree Planted publicly reports the number and location of trees it plants, which we use to calculate the number of years of personal carbon emissions offset.

Time Period of Data

Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2017

Ratings are based on data the nonprofit itself collects on its work. We use the most recent year with sufficient data. Typically, this data allows us to calculate direct changes in participants' lives, such as increased income.

Method for Attributing Outcomes

We estimate the number of years of carbon emissions the nonprofit offsets by comparing the trees actually planted by the nonprofit to the trees that would have been planted in the absence of the nonprofit (the “counterfactual”). Some trees would have been planted even without the nonprofit, such as by the government or other nonprofits; these counterfactual successes must be netted out of the successes we observe. Otherwise, we would be attributing a change (carbon emissions offset) to the nonprofit when it would have happened anyway. Few nonprofits estimate the counterfactual themselves, so we construct our own counterfactual estimate based on research and publicly available data. We use the percentage of plantable land left where the nonprofit works to calculate the probability of displacing the efforts of other organizations. We net out that change from the changes we observe to get a correct estimate of impact.

We don't know if the observed changes were caused by the nonprofit's program or something else happening at the same time (e.g. a participant got a raise). To determine causation, we take the outcomes we observe and subtract an estimate of the outcomes that would have happened even without the program (i.e. counterfactual outcomes).

Cost

Data Source

Cost data reported by One Tree Planted and data and assumptions about partner and beneficiary costs.

Cost Calculation

$201,255 program costs + partner costs + $0 beneficiary costs = $201,255 total costs

After estimating the program's outcomes, we need to determine how much it cost to achieve those outcomes. All monetary costs are counted, whether they are borne by a nonprofit service deliverer or by the nonprofit’s public and private partners. In-kind donations, of labor or supplies, are not counted.

Impact

Impact Calculation

$201,255 total costs / 1,929 years of carbon emissions offset = roughly $100 offsets one year of personal carbon emissions.

Numbers may not divide precisely due to rounding and time discounting.

We calculate impact, defined as the change in outcomes attributable to a program divided by the cost to achieve those outcomes.

Rating

Benchmark for Rating

Impact ratings of tree planting programs are based on the cost offsetting a year of personal carbon emissions relative to the social cost of carbon. Programs receive 5 stars if they offset a year of personal carbon emissions for 75% of the social cost of carbon averted and 4 stars for 125%. If a nonprofit reports impact but doesn't meet the benchmark for cost-effectiveness, it earns 3 stars.

Determination

The nonprofit offsets a year of personal carbon emissions for less than 75% of the social cost of carbon averted.

Why We Could Be Wrong

We welcome your suggestions for improving our methodology. Our methodology section includes explanations of how we mitigate these issues.

  • The outcome could oversimplify total impact. Different species of trees sequester carbon at different rates and experience different growth and survival rates. Because data on each nonprofit's tree species are not available to us, our analysis necessarily simplifies a complex calculation.
  • There could be multiple important outcomes not captured in our analysis.
  • One Tree Planted may be spending additional money in order to serve harder-to-reach and/or particularly valuable populations.
  • In the absence of better data, we assume uniform counterfactual rates for programs, at the risk of masking variation across nonprofits.
  • Our estimates rely on data made public by One Tree Planted on its website, annual reports, financial statements and Form 990s.
  • We only analyze programs that meet our criteria. As a result, this report may not fully reflect the impact of One Tree Planted.
  • We do not assess what explains the nonprofit's cost-effectiveness.

We assign a rating to the nonprofit using the rubric:

  • There are indications of governance or financial health issues at the nonprofit.

  • After being given an opportunity, the nonprofit chose not to publish impact information.

    We are not yet issuing this level of star rating.

  • The rated program does not meet our benchmark for cost-effectiveness.

  • The rated program is cost-effective.

  • The rated program is highly cost-effective.

Read More

Nonprofit Comment

Not provided. This may be because we lacked contact information for One Tree Planted or it chose not to comment. If you are a representative of this nonprofit, contact us to review and comment on your rating.

Before publishing, we ask every nonprofit we can to review our work, offer corrections and provide a comment.


Analysis Details

Analysis conducted by ImpactMatters and published on November 22, 2019.

An ImpactMatters analyst searched the Form 990s, annual reports, audited financials and the website of One Tree Planted to calculate impact and rate cost-effectiveness. A second analyst conducted quality control.

We welcome corrections. If you are interested in exploring applications of ImpactMatters data, contact us at partnerships@impactmatters.org.

Governance Check

One Tree Planted passes our governance check.

Overhead spending is reasonable (<35% of total spending)

Charity Navigator has not issued a fraud or mismanagement advisory

One Tree Planted itself has not reported any material diversions of assets

One Tree Planted itself has not reported any excess benefit transactions

Source: One Tree Planted Form 990 and Charity Navigator

How We Calculate Impact

This rating is based on ImpactMatters analysis of the impact of Reforestation relative to costs. Impact is the change in the social outcomes of people served by the program, net of the change that would have happened even without the program (the “counterfactual”); divided by cost. Learn more.

For Donors

A guide to our process for analyzing nonprofits and assigning ratings.

For Nonprofits

Learn about best practices for reporting impact for different program types.

For Researchers

Our collected guidelines on how we analyze impact of nonprofit programs.

Rating is a complex exercise and we urge you to read our frequently asked questions for details of how and why we issue these ratings.