Timeline of nonprofit evaluation

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This is a timeline of nonprofit evaluation, in particular charity evaluation.

Big picture

Time period Key developments
1869–1930s Scientific philanthropy (or scientific charity) begins. This movement is influenced by Social Darwinism in trying to exclude certain groups from receiving support, but is also focused on record-keeping and self-evaluation.[1][2]
1992–present Starting with CharityWatch, this period sees the emergence of many charity watchdog organizations.
late 2000s Effective altruism emerges as a movement with its current name, introducing new charity evaluation organizations and methodologies.[3]

Full timeline

Year Evaluation type Event Geographic location
1869 Self-evaluation Charity Organization Societies (COS) begin in England. In the US, the COS keeps centralized records and learn from each other, and is part of the Scientific Charity Movement. The COS is dominant in private charity until the 1930s.[1] England, Germany, United States
1941 Government regulation Form 990 is first used.[4] Form 990 is an Internal Revenue Service form that provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit organization and is sometimes used by charity evaluation organizations. United States
1956 Resource Foundation Center is founded.[5] Among other activities, the Foundation Center provides databases with detailed information about nonprofits.[5][6] It is often cited in news reports on the state of foundation giving.[7][8] United States
1966 Foundation measuring nonprofit grantees The Hewlett Foundation is established.[9] In the coming years, the Hewlett Foundation would focus on "outcome-focused grantmaking"[10] and start the Nonprofit Marketplace Initiative, a funder of many charity evaluation organizations.
1969 (estimated, no direct source) Resource The first edition of the Taft Foundation Reporter, an annual report with profiles of giving analyses of major private foundations in the United States, is published. The Taft Foundation Reporter would continue to be published annually, till at least 2010.[11][12] United States
1982 Resource The National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) launches. In 1986, NCCS would become a project of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.[13] NCCS is most famous for developing the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE). NTEE codes are used both by the IRS[14] and by other resources and charity evaluators such as GuideStar[15] and Charity Navigator.[16] United States
1987 Publication The NonProfit Times, a newspaper covering the nonprofit sector, is launched.[17][18] United States (New Jersey, but covers the whole country)
1988 Publication The Chronicle of Philanthropy is founded.[19] The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a newspaper that covers the nonprofit world and is aimed at charity leaders, foundation executives, fund raisers, and other people involved in philanthropy.[19]
1992 Charity watchdog CharityWatch is founded as American Institute of Philanthropy.[20] CharityWatch provides information about charities' financial efficiency, accountability, governance, and fundraising.[21] United States
1994 Charity watchdog GuideStar, an information service specializing in reporting on US nonprofit companies, launches as Philanthropic Research, Inc. with a staff of five: founder Buzz Schmidt and four employees.[21][22] United States
1999 Consulting McKinsey & Company creates a separate non-profit practice focused on global public health, foundations, and international aid and development. In general, it charges half its regular fee for such work. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which would formally be founded in 2000, is one of its first clients.[23] United States
2000 Consulting The Bridgespan Group is founded by Thomas Tierney, former Managing Director of Bain & Company.[23][24] Its goal is to provide management consulting to nonprofits and philanthropists.[23][24][25] Bridgespan differs from McKinsey in its initial focus: it is targeting mid-sized nonprofits rather than large ones.[23] United States (Boston)
2000 Consulting Faunalytics, a nonprofit organization that conducts opinion polls, audience surveys, focus groups, and other types of research for animal advocates. Faunalytics helps nonprofits conduct direct impact measurement and evaluation of programs.[26]
2000 Consulting FSG is founded as Foundation Strategy Group by Michael Porter with Mark Kramer. FSG provides consulting to nonprofits to increase impact, and has introduced concepts such as catalytic philanthropy.[27] FSG has also published documents such as Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact, which explores how to evaluate outcomes in organizations.[25][28] United States (Boston)
2000 Charity watchdog Ministry Watch, an evangelical Christian organization that reviews Protestant ministries for financial accountability and transparency, is founded.
2001 Charity watchdog BBB Wise Giving Alliance adopts its current name.[29] The BBB Wise Giving Alliance publishes a set of standards of accountability for charitable organizations and evaluations of national charities against those standards. United States
2001 Charity watchdog Charity Navigator is launched by Pat and Marion Dugan.[30] Charity Navigator is an American independent charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States.[31] United States
2001 Consulting The Center for Effective Philanthropy, a nonprofit organization focused on the development of comparative data to enable higher-performing philanthropic funders, is founded. Phil Buchanan is its chief executive at the time of founding.[32][33] United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
2002 Charity watchdog New Philanthropy Capital launches, founded by Goldman Sachs partners Gavyn Davies and Peter Wheeler.[34] New Philanthropy Capital is a charitable organisation that tries to direct more funding to effective charities and help donors make more informed decisions on how to give.[23][35] United Kingdom (London)
2003 Publication First issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a magazine-cum-website about social innovation, is published.[36] United States
2003 Consulting The Redstone Strategy Group, a company that helps nonprofits by conducting analysis, is founded.[37] United States
2005 Charity watchdog Intelligent Giving launches. Intelligent Giving is a charity evaluator advising donors on how to make the most satisfactory use of their money. It employs a casual, witty style on their website. Intelligent Giving would stop operating in 2009.[38] (Note: 2005 is the earliest mention of the organization; the founding date is unclear.) United Kingdom (London)
2006 Charity watchdog Nonprofit Marketplace Initiative launches. Nonprofit Marketplace Initiative is an initiative of the Effective Philanthropy Group of the Hewlett Foundation that tries to have more individual philanthropic donations be based on information about a nonprofit's performance.[39][40][41][42] It has also funded GiveWell.[43] The Nonprofit Marketplace Initiative would close in April 2014.
2006 Resource Center for High Impact Philanthropy is established at the University of Pennsylvania. The Center focuses on high impact philanthropy, both in the US and internationally and puts out studies, papers, and briefings on how to maximize the impact of one's philanthropy.[44] United States
Late 2000s, continuing into 2010s Social movement Effective altruism, a philosophy and social movement that attempts to apply evidence and reason to ethical decision-making, begins to emerge as a movement. Note that the term "effective altruism" would be coined only in the 2010s.[45][46] Global, but concentrated initially in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia
2006 Charity watchdog Charity Intelligence Canada is conceived.[47] Its first audited financial statement is for the year from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, so some sources put the founding date as 2007 or 2008.[48][49] In 2012, Charity Intelligence Canada temporarily loses its own registered charity status in 2011 due to failure to file financial reports.[50] Its recommendations and ratings are cited in Canadian publications in discussions of where to donate.[51][52] Canada
2007 Charity watchdog GreatNonprofits is founded. GreatNonprofits provides reviews and ratings of US nonprofit organizations.[53] United States
2007 Charity watchdog GiveWell launches, founded by former Bridgewater Associates hedge fund analysts Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld.[54] GiveWell is a non-profit charity evaluator and effective altruism-focused organization that focuses primarily on the cost-effectiveness of the organizations that it evaluates, rather than traditional metrics such as the percentage of the organization's budget that is spent on overhead.[55] In the coming years, GiveWell's top recommendations would be cited by many publications discussing where to donate money.[56][57][58] United States, but evaluating charities globally. Initially based in New York City, later moved to San Francisco
2008 Charity watchdog Philanthropedia launches as the Nonprofit Knowledge Network. Philanthropedia is an expert crowdsourcing resource for funders and others to learn about high-impact nonprofit organizations.[59] In 2011 it would become a division of GuideStar.[60]
2008 Resource The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) launches in September at the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Accra, Ghana.[61]:3[62] The IATI provides a standard XML schema which organizations can use to report their activities. The IATI also provides a registry that tracks the aid information of 473 organizations as of September 2016.[63]
2010 Charity watchdog Jumo is launched by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.[64][65] Jumo is a social networking service and website that indexes charities so people can find and evaluate them. Jumo would merge with GOOD in August 2011.[66] United States (Palo Alto, California)
2010–2011 Charity watchdog In July 2010, Charity Navigator (CN) announces its first major revamp.[67] This revamping begins what the organization states is the process to move toward CN 3.0, which is a three-dimensional rating system that will include what they consider the critical elements to consider in making a wise charitable investment – (1) financial health (Charity Navigator evaluated this from its inception), (2) accountability and transparency (begun in July 2010) and (3) results reporting (slated to begin rating this dimension in July 2012).[68] After collecting data for more than a year, in September 2011 Charity Navigator launches CN 2.0, which is a two-dimensional rating system that rates a charity's (1) financial health and (2) accountability and transparency.[69]
2011 Charity controversy The Central Asia Institute undergoes controversy for allegations of poor financial conduct, raising questions about the ratings previously assigned to it by charity evaluators.[70][71]
2011 Charity watchdog/foundation Open Philanthropy Project (Open Phil) launches as GiveWell Labs. Open Phil is a joint project between GiveWell (a charity evaluator focusing mostly on global health) and Good Ventures (a philanthropic organization co-founded by Cari Tuna and her husband Dustin Moskovitz, one of the co-founders of Facebook)[72] that tries to identify the most effective ways to give money to a wide variety of causes.[73][74] United States
2012 Charity watchdog Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), a US-based non-profit charity evaluator and effective altruism-focused organization dedicated to finding and promoting the most effective ways to help animals, launches.[75] In the coming years, ACE's recommendations would be cited by many publications discussing how to best help animals.[56] United States
2013 Publication Inside Philanthropy is launched by David Callahan.[76] The web publication covers billionaire and foundation giving as well as the activities of nonprofits.[77] United States
2014 Charity watchdog IDinsight, an organization that conducts ranndomized controlled trials and helps governments and nonprofits set up monitoring for their programs, receives its first grant from charity evaluator GiveWell.[78] This would be the first of many grants from GiveWell to IDinsight.[79] A GiveWell blog post in May 2017 would provide more detail on GiveWell's collaboration with IDinsight.[80]
2015 Charity watchdog ImpactMatters is launched in December by economist Dean Karlan and Elijah Goldberg.[81] ImpactMatters is incubated at Innovations for Poverty Action and conducts audits of nonprofits.[82] United States
2016 Charity controversy In March, the Wounded Warrior Project fires top executives amid accusations of wasteful spending by the group.[83] The accusations had been reported in late January.[84] The revelations lead to discussion of the need for nonprofit transparency and accountability, and more care by donors.[85]

See also


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  2. Emma Saunders-Hastings (July 1, 2015). "The Logic of Effective Altruism". Boston Review. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  3. Matthews, Dylan (24 April 2015). "You have $8 billion. You want to do as much good as possible. What do you do?". Vox. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  4. Cheryl Chasin, Debra Kawecki and David Jones (2002). "G. Form 990" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2016. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "About Foundation Center". Foundation Center. Retrieved April 27, 2016. 
  6. Teltsch, Kathleen (April 11, 1982). "INFORMATION CENTER AIDS PEOPLE SEEKING GRANTS". New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  7. Abelson, Reed (March 29, 2000). "Foundation Giving Is at $23 Billion High". New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  8. Strom, Stephanie (March 30, 2009). "Foundation Giving in '08 Defied Huge Asset Decline". New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  9. "William and Flora Hewlett and the Hewlett Foundation". Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  10. "Doing good today and better tomorrow" (PDF). The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Environment Program. 
  11. Foundation Reporter 1997: Comprehensive Profiles and Giving Analyses of America's Major Private Foundations (Annual) 28th Edition. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  12. "Foundation Reporter (Taft Foundation Reporter) 42nd Edition". Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  13. "About NCCS". National Center for Charitable Statistics. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  14. "Instructions for Form 1023-EZ (08/2015). Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
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  16. "Charity Navigator rating for the Anti-Defamation League". Charity Navigator. Retrieved June 26, 2016.  (note that the description of the charity includes a NTEE code, classification, and type)
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  18. Meier, Barry (December 2, 1989). "CONSUMER'S WORLD; Seeking Charities That Actually Help". New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
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  83. Gibbons-Neff, Thomas (March 10, 2016). "Wounded Warrior Project executives fired amid controversy". Washington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2017. 
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Nonprofit evaluation Category:Global health Category:Charity