The Objective vs. Subjective Process of Selecting the “Best” Non-profits for Donors

Pionero is continuously improving, reassessing and updating its evaluation methods of nonprofit organizations (NPOs). This is, after all, the core of Pionero’s mission to promote the most outstanding NPOs and present them to the donors who are seeking them.

 Our Programs Coordinator, Isabela carrying out Stakeholder analysis of a small NPO

Our Programs Coordinator, Isabela carrying out Stakeholder analysis of a small NPO

It is however, not so simple to get a truly accurate reflection of an NPO in all our 5 criteria areas; Impact, Efficiency, Sustainability, Need/Relevance, Transparency.  In areas such as Efficiency and Transparency, it is somewhat more straightforward as we can analyse data sets such as annual reports and operational budgets to get a clearer picture. However, in other areas such as Impact and Need, some would argue that it is impossible to give a definitive answer given the subjectivity of factors at play.

Nevertheless, Pionero is committed to creating systems that accurately and impartially reflect NPO strengths and improvement areas whilst also being open and transparent regarding subjective areas. There is a delicate balance to be struck when advising donors between giving the accurate impartial facts and the subjective pros and cons regarding an NPO.  What Pionero therefore strives for, is a very comprehensive insight into each individual donor’s values, beliefs and philanthropy goals afterwhich Pionero will then present a shortlist of appropriate NPOs that are in line with the information provided by the donor. Ultimately however, Pionero leaves it up to the donor when making the final decision regarding which NPO to support.

 NPO evaluation of medium sized NPO, Niños de Guatemala

NPO evaluation of medium sized NPO, Niños de Guatemala

To give an example of the subjective nature of choosing the “best” NPO for the donor, given the choice between a small and a medium-sized NPO, both organizations’ merits and shortcomings may be seen differently depending on the donor. A larger NPO will likely have higher transparency levels but higher administration costs compared to a smaller NPO. The smaller NPO is more likely to send a higher donation percentage directly to the project and have closer community links but on the other hand, may have less transparent reporting structures due to lower staffing capacity. No NPO is perfect therefore it is ultimately up to the donor to use the detailed and impartial information gathered by Pionero to make the final decision.

Nevertheless, no matter what NPO is chosen, any of the NPOs on Pionero’s approved database is verified and meets the strict criteria set out by Pionero. Pionero has a selection of both small and medium-sized NPOs within the same thematic area. This is because even though the same issue area may be dealt with by several NPOs, each NPO will have its own solution style and approach to solve similar problems of which can be tackled in numerous ways.

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