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Create a measurement that is a proponent of the cause.

Humans need relativity. The measure in the for-profit world is...profit. We get it. The recent-ish measurement in the non-profit world is overhead. The overhead measurement is the only easy measurement thrown out there and it's understood as a measure of bad. Establish a hugely adopted and easily understood measure of good to rival profit and it will be a game changer.

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    Mar 18 2013: Nice idea Becki, and definitely something worth considering. Seems like a logical follow-through indeed and I like the idea of measuring doing good by something other than how little you spend on it, which is a damaging criteria anyway. What kind of measurement would you propose as a matter of interest?
  • Mar 14 2013: Love the idea of adopting a positive measure, instead of trying to minimize a negative one. (Actually "overhead" doesn't even measure the absence of success a non-profit achieves, if that makes sense...)
    But I have no idea how to go about it.
    Becki, why not have a go at and see if you can drum up a group of people who might be able to figure something out, if you haven't already. Then shift your Gajantic Mission to inspire widespread adoption.
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    Gail .

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    Mar 12 2013: Every year I go to "" to track my preferred charities' performances and purposes. (Sometimes changes are dramatic).

    I will continue to base my donations on how little is spent on overhead. If a charity can't get a volunteer base, and directors need salaries or other monetary rewards, and paid staff, and telemarketers, and paid outside advisers, I don't trust them to use my funds wisely. I am NOT interested in providing jobs or opportunities for the already well-placed. I am interested in helping those that the charity professes to want to help - whatever that charity is.

    I am far more interested in supporting an empassioned group of volunteers - even if I don't get a tax credit for it - than I am in supporting the scam that too many charities have become.

    My husband used to support, with both time and dollars, a major charity that had 6% overhead. It all sounded OK until I delved into the financial statements and saw that the reason for this is that the charity operates like a giant corporation. It gives money to sub-charities that have their own boards of directors, director, staffing, and building expenses. These other charities give to other charities - both up and down the chain - so that funds can appear on the financial statement as going to the causes they stand for rather than for operational expenses. It turned out that the money that actually went to his intended target appeared to be less than 5%.
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    Mar 12 2013: Don't organizations keep a host of performance indicators that they use to describe and monitor what they are doing? Businesses record not only profit but also the number of customers, the number of repeat customers, revenues, number of locations, growth in sales year over year for individual stores, measures of satisfaction in customer service, inventory of various kinds...

    Don't non-profit organizations keep records of what they have accomplished in terms of their goals? Like number of vaccinations given or protein bars shipped or houses built or trees planted?

    Are you saying you seek something that translates such disparate output measures into standard units? This would seem to subtract rather than add information, as potential contributors would each place different value on different ones.
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    Mar 12 2013: This idea ignores what is organic to the economy, it doesn't/won't work.

    This meme stems from not being prejudiced against anything which creates a lack of observation on the subject.