In defence of impact assessment: Love is great but love that achieves something is even better

A suspicion of what charities actually deliver is holding back donations

Share
Related Topics

Lots of us give to charity because we feel passionate about the cause, we want to do our bit, and we hope that some good arises. So if the charity helps young people  find employment, we hope that more of them get a job than would have done otherwise. Or if we give to support a new reading scheme for deprived children, we hope that their reading skills really do improve.

Many of us don’t actually ask the question though – does whatever we donate to really change things? Or do we just hand over the money and hope? People who work in the charity sector are not in it to make a profit; they do it because they care. So naturally we assume they must be making a difference.

But I am afraid this is not always the case. The world is littered with projects that have great aims and good intentions, but that actually - when the analysis is done - take in charitable income and achieve very little. Charities that actually don’t reduce re-offending rates relative to what would have happened without their intervention. Charities in developing countries that deliver things they think will work, but that good, randomized trial evaluations show didn’t make things much better. We sometimes find that if money had gone to a different charity with similar objectives, but a better-established delivery method, it would have had a greater impact on more people’s lives.

Some might say this is just something you have to live with in the charity sector. Because if the bean-counters come to town, they would get rid of the passion, the mission, and reduce everything to nuts and bolts, to pounds and pence, and miss on out the real meaning of charitable activity. But this, to be quite honest, is tosh. Of course you have to be sensitive and of course not everything can be measured. But we can certainly try.

NPC’s new research shows that one of the things holding back donations is a concern that some charities do not really know if they are achieving anything, and so the sector has fewer funds than it would have otherwise.

You might think it’s right to resist the concept of impact, but it would mean letting down the very people we are all trying to help. Is that really ‘love’?

Dan Corry is Chief Executive of the charity think tank and consultancy NPC

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map