GiveWell, nptech

GiveWell releases reviews of nonprofit organizations on the Web

GiveWell logo

And the philanthropic world will never be the same again.

Kudos to Holden and Elie at GiveWell for what I believe to be a groundbreaking approach to philanthropy. They are -gasp- releasing their analyses of multiple nonprofit organizations COMPLETE with the grant application materials that the nonprofit sent to GiveWell. This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of thing on the Web. Dear reader, please e-mail me at [email protected] if I’m wrong. Forget about Charity Navigator or Guidestar, GiveWell is the real deal when it comes to transparency and accountability in the nonprofit world.

Use GiveWell to inform your organization of what other nonprofits are doing. I think of this as the only way to see how other nonprofits are building their grantwinning programs. Yes, all the information is out there in all its unvarnished glory. Information wants to be free (and how!) What’s fascinating are the reports that nonprofits held back. You can find those reports by going to http://reviews.givewell.net/node/17 and then clicking on the names of Round 1 applicants. For instance, the Women’s Venture Fund has a note attached: “Note – all materials withheld due to confidentiality request ” Ouch.

I’m not an entirely big fan of a lot of the newer philanthropic “Web 2.0″ sites out there but I’ll report on them because it’s clear that philanthropy is changing and there’s some interesting tech involved. However, these newer sites don’t really change the way that nonprofits operate.

reviews.givewell.net was all done in Drupal. I gave Holden some fairly useless advice about Drupal but I think he used some outsourced developers and got it all together for a very low price. Holden has used Drupal well but I believe that the information he has posted needs to be better organized. He asked for comments on the site. Here are some from a techie’s point of view:

  • Needs a good IA and a good front-end developer – the site is crying out for some IA and usability love
  • Real forums to discuss issues on the site
  • The comments feature in Drupal is buried at the bottom of the page. Arrgh.
  • The pages are way, way too long. It’s a LOT of scrolling.
  • Where’s the Quantcast tag so I can see this site’s traffic statistics?

All my specific philanthropy-oriented comments will go on over at my OTHER blog over at blog.socialmarkets.org. I probably won’t have time to post anything until AFTER socialmarkets launches on the 21st but I promise you’ll see them soon.

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7 Comments

  • On 01.01.08 Anonymous said:

    GiveWell has been fraudulently promoting itself as documented here:

    http://metatalk.metafilter.com/15547/

  • On 01.01.08 Allan Benamer said:

    Yeah, I’ve just read about it — I’m posting about it forthwith… Horrible timing — I’m leaving on vacation for a couple of weeks… sigh.

  • On 01.22.08 Jeff said:

    I think all credibility has been lost in regard to givewell’s “transparency”.

    The only two employees of the organization (see the budget here: http://www.givewell.net/files/ClearFund/Clear%20Fund%20Budget%20As%20Of%202007%2010%2001.xls), who just happen to pocket about 50% of the donations for their personal income, have been caught red handed taking part in a campaign of lies, attempted bribery and “astro turfing” various websites to fluff their company, which has very little to show for their highly paid salary.

    The wrist slapping from the puppet board members was a nice gesture but I don’t think anyone who has any commitment to charity transparency can really ever take these to guys seriously. They really need to look into a new career. I’d suggest something in sales where it’s acceptable to be underhanded for your own profit.

  • On 06.12.09 Chris said:

    You should also probably take a look at http://www.jolkona.org They seem to be using technology very creatively to connect donors to various projects.

  • On 06.19.09 Allan Benamer said:

    Pretty nice site! How did you learn about it Chris?

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