Thank you for the opportunity to share some knowledge and to learn from all of you today.
About me. Currently with the Council on Foundations as a manager of global philanthropy. Also doing some volunteer work as a chapter co-chair of AAPIP and blogger. And finally serving as a consultant on a project with the WHIAAPI.
Not all of you are familiar with global philanthropy, so I thought I’d provide some statistics from the International Grantmaking Update.
How the Council defines international grantmaking: The Council on Foundations defines “international grantmaking” to include grants made by U.S. foundations and corporations to overseas recipients as well as grants made to U.S.-based organizations operating international programs. This includes grants made toward activities wholly within the Unites States that have significant international purpose and impact.International support rose from 22% to 24.4% of overall giving between 2006 and 2008. By share of number of grants, however, international giving remained almost unchanged at 9.1%.
Growing a lot, but still a long way to go.
Because the law is still in flux, there is little to no accountability about evaluating how effective a grant is. Culture of philanthropy – the giving decision is still dependent on other factors besides effectiveness – personal relationships, personal interest in a cause, personal desire to do good and to give back. Looking at data and evaluating effectiveness and impact just isn’t there yet. Philanthropy is still very much an individual decision. Foundations have started, but there is still a general distrust of institutional philanthropy, in part because of recent scandals involving charities and also because any institution is still viewed as a threat to the Chinese government. Chinese philanthropy is still in need of technical support from experienced countries on how to build professional organizational structures, design and manage programs, and refine its financial investment model.Guo Meimei scandal created a public outcry for the increase of accountability and transparency of philantropy in China, as scandals tend to do everywhere (it’s good to see that some things are the same everywhere). Calls for transparency have led to criticism from nonprofits and the public to not only overhaul their tax forms, but also seemly has caused the Chinese govenrment to ease the restrictions for Chinese nonprofits to become legitimized and legally recognized entities. Some say many Chinese are reluctant to donate their wealth for fear that the money will end up in a corrupt organization.That fear is mostly rooted in the government’s insistence on controlling charity work and promoting its own vast organizations, while setting limits on the activities of private foundations. So large state-run charities, especially the Red Cross, are suspect in the eyes of many Chinese.Those groups have wide latitude in soliciting donations from the public, and are designated by the government to be focal points of charity collection during times of disaster, when people are looking for any outlet to help the needy. Official figures published in February 2009 showed that the Red Cross collected more than $735 million in donations after the Sichuan earthquake, even though some prominent people, like the real estate tycoon Wang Shi, advised against giving to the group.
What’s the China lens on this report’s findings?
Traditionally, grantmakers have viewed evaluation through the lens of accountability. Are our grantees truly achieving what we are funding them to achieve? What results are we getting in return for our philanthropic investments? Measuring results is important. Grantmakers need to show how they are advancing their missions and making a difference on the issues they are dedicated to addressing. However, evaluation is not solely about tracking the impact of grants already made. It is also about gathering data to learn how to work even more effectively.
The conundrum of how to measure changes in these types of systems (and the potential contribution of grantmaker and grantee actions to those changes) has spurred many grantmakers to explore new models of measuring “social value creation” and “social return on investment.”Many of these new evaluation models are based on the understanding that transforming complex systems with one grant or one set of grants is impossible. In these cases, evaluation becomes a way to learn more about the range of factors that affect progress on an issue, and to consider how a specific intervention may or may not contribute to positive change.
Evaluation is not solely about measuring (and improving) grantmaker results. It is also about learning how to improve the work of everyone involved in helping to achieve shared goals for social change. This means working alongside grantees to set evaluation measures that will be useful to them as they seek to learn from their ongoing work. It also means providing grantees with better and more tailored support to do evaluation right.
When grantmakers think about evaluation, they often think about evaluating individual grants. They want information about whether a specific grantee or a cluster of grants is delivering its intended results. While this information can be useful, it rarely offers broader insights on how the grantmaker is doing as a whole. Are its overall strategies sound? What return is the grantmaker getting on its full portfolio of investments? How can it do a better job of achieving its mission?
Like anyone else, grantmakers do not like to fail. But the failure of a grantmaking strategy or initiative can produce learning that will lead to better results in the future. In this sense, the only real failures are failures to learn from situations that didn’t go as hoped.
In conclusion, Chinese philanthropy is still in its early stages of development. The country’s philanthropy may not be ready for evaluation, though incidents like the GuoMeimei scandal show that intuitively, some evaluation and accountability is needed.
1. The Evolution of PhilanthropicEvaluation and Assessment in ChinaAndrew HoOctober 25, 2012American Evaluation AssociationMinneapolis, MN
2. • Over 13 years of corporate, philanthropy, and nonprofit sector experience• MBA and MPP from Georgetown University• Registered Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) www.cof.org www.asianamericangiving.com www.aapip.org www.whitehouse.gov/aapi
3. Philanthropy in China• China now has over 2,600 charitable foundations, vs. zero just 10 years ago – Donations total approx. $90B RMB, or about US$15 billion – Top causes include education (34%), poverty reduction (28%) and human services (10%) – Draft of Guidelines for the Development of Chinese Philanthropy (2011-2015) currently under discussion
4. What is evaluation in philanthropy?• Evaluation in philanthropy is systematic information gathering and study of grantmaker-supported activities that informs learning and drives improvement.• Evaluation includes both intentional learning about the results of a grantmaker’s work and applied study of supported projects.Adapted from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Evaluation in Philanthropy (2009)
5. Purposes of Evaluations Conductedfor and of GrantmakersEvaluations are conducted to:• Render judgment, provide accountability, inform decisions related to grantmaking (about grantee and grantmaker actions)• Facilitate improvements, grantee or grantmaker performance and learning• Generate knowledge, program model development and replication, root problems and solutions, mobilize resources to address problemsAdapted from the Bruner Foundation
6. Why evaluation hasn’t taken off inChina• Notions of accountability and the law – The Guo Meimei scandal• Culture of philanthropy in China – Factors other than effectiveness• Individual vs. institutional philanthropy in China – Mistrust of institutions
7. Published in 2009 jointly by:Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, www.geofunders.orgCouncil on Foundations, www.cof.org
8. It’s about improvement,not just proofHow do we measure results, and learn how towork more effectively?
9. It’s about contribution, notattribution• What are the range of factors affecting progress on an issue?• Are the specific interventions that can contribute to positive change?
10. It’s about learning with others,not alone• No charity works in isolation; how can we develop trust and relationship to learn together?• How can the funding process be more collaborative and less combative?
11. It’s about going beyondthe individual grant• What return is the grantmaker getting on its full portfolio of investments?• How can it do a better job of achieving its mission?
12. It’s about embracing failure
13. What might be some conditions ofreadiness for evaluation?1. A group of influential foundations and individual donors committed to transparency and accountability for the philanthropic sector2. Philanthropists demonstrate an understanding of and willingness to fund evaluation efforts3. The China Foundation Center, with support from domestic and international funders, leads efforts promoting evaluation
14. China may not be ready forevaluation, but evaluationshould be ready for China.