Givology Staff's Blog

"A Guide to Giving" Book: Sneak Peek

[b][color=#006600]We released our book today - check it out here on Amazon![/color][/b]
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What is effective giving? What exactly is the meaning of giving? [i]A Guide to Giving[/i], written collectively by volunteers of the global organization Givology, answers these questions by delving into topics of non-profit management, "return on giving" and volunteer practices. The first half of the book is primarily a handbook for effective giving, while the second half showcases powerful stories of grassroots education organizations that truly have refreshed communities across the world.[/font]
[u]Chapter 2 Sneak Peek (first few paragraphs)[/u]
The Givology Story- Small dollars and small hours
As students at the University of Pennsylvania, we started Givology because we wanted to do something more for education. Each of us has our own story and motivation, but we all viewed education as an essential pre-condition for empowerment – as seniors, we looked back our schooling experience and felt immensely grateful for how it changed our lives. Furthermore, in our volunteering work abroad, we saw that microfinance works best when the borrower has basic financial knowledge, improved health outcomes relies on knowledgeable mothers, and social mobility critical to poverty alleviation depends on higher educational attainment. Finally, getting tired of waiting for someone to create a solution, the concept of Givology as a recurring vision that wouldn’t desist, until we pulled a team together and got going! As we brainstormed and developed our platform to address the areas where saw a failing in the conventional way of delivering aid, we wanted to address five major reoccurring themes that frustrated us:[color=rgb(148, 54, 52)] [/color]
Why should the size of one’s pocket book dictate one’s “say” in giving?
As students, we didn’t have much money, but we still wanted to be highly involved in the giving process. In return for large checks, big private donors and foundations often get board seats with decision making power, frequent reports, access to program staff, invitations for trips, and general privileged information about the use and the impact of funds. Consequently, they develop a personal connection of the cause and feel fully invested. When we had our $50 to give, we couldn’t expect this sort of treatment. We appreciated the newsletters and the general information, but didn’t have much visibility on where our funding was going and limited chance to interact with both the non-profit staff and the communities we were helping. Inequalities permeate throughout society, but at least in philanthropy, we wanted to create a system that [i]democratized [/i]participation such that a donor who contributes even $1 has the same level of visibility and access as someone who gives hundreds.
Why does the investment community care about the dollar return on capital committed, but the non-profit world generally views dollars spent as a gauge of program impact?
As an undergraduate finance major and then a financial economics graduate student, I have the concept of assessing returns drilled into my head. In my day job, I work as an investor in analyzing businesses and then deciding which stocks to trade. When an investment opportunity presents itself, my investment team focuses on the [i]outcomes[/i] from our input of financing – we meet the management team, conduct a careful due diligence, analyze the industry and competitive context, assess the quality and consumer satisfaction with the product/service, and build a financial model to estimate our overall return on investment. Yet, in the non-profit world, rather than focus on the forward-looking impact (the non-profit equivalent of “return on investment”), we end up relying on [i]expenditures[/i] itself as a measure of impact, such as number of text books purchased, number of schools built, etc, which can be misleading. Just as an example, a study in Kenya randomly assigned schools to receive free government textbooks, but found that only students who had strong performance to begin with improved, as the language and content may have been too difficult for a great majority of students.[url=https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#13babd2d70c42650_13babd2075e60d46__edn1][i][/url]
As a corollary, would you ever make an investment in a business simply on the basis of how it uses its budget? Alas, if expenditures alone were sufficient, the US ought to have a top-rated K-12 education system as we spend more than $91,000 per student between the ages of 6-15 – the second highest in the world after Switzerland[url=https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#13babd2d70c42650_13babd2075e60d46__edn2][ii][/url]. Granted, as we discuss in the next chapter, measuring impact is really tough, but we wanted to at least create an organization that strove to make transparency on the quality of operation a key tenet.
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[url=https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#13babd2d70c42650_13babd2075e60d46__ednref1][i][/url] “Developing World Education Review” http://www.givewell.org/international/education/detail
[url=https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#13babd2d70c42650_13babd2075e60d46__ednref2][ii][/url] Rugy, Veronique. “K-12 Spending per student in the OECD” http://mercatus.org/publication/k-12-spending-student-oecd

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