If my extended, multi-post rant on the Straw Ratio has been at all convincing to you, you should be concerned about what the Internet thinks “charity evaluation” means. I’m not just talking about the top result, but about the whole shebang.
Give.org’s criteria don’t say a single thing about the nature or effectiveness of a charity’s program activities – only its organizational policies and, of course, our friend the Straw Ratio (see “FINANCES”). The next link is referencing the American Institute of Philanthropy, whose ratings criteria will look familiar to fans of Charity Navigator’s: program expenses good, administrative and fundraising expenses bad, lots of assets/reserves good, content of programs irrelevant. Next one down gives a whole list of links to charity evaluators with more (or less) of the same.
Then you’ve got the bold Put your money where our math is (I’ll admit that’s a great pun), which says “Don’t worry. We’ve done your homework for you,” before laying out criteria for the charities that are “run the most efficiently” – criteria that, again, look mighty familiar, except these guys penalize charities for saving a lot where the above watchdogs reward them. (There are arguments both ways … and both arguments are pretty bad. I haven’t spelled out why I think how much a charity saves is a pretty crazy thing to look at when trying to help people … leave a comment if you want me to.)
And on and on … not to mention the ads for charities claiming to be “Top ranked in efficiency” and the like. One guess as to how they’re measuring that.
Not cool, Internet.