There are many resources for finding out information about a nonprofit. The best option is to review an organization’s documents yourself. But if you don’t have time for that, where should you go for reliable reporting on nonprofits?
The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation (DMA) is hoping you will turn to their new Nonprofit Dashboard. The Dashboard’s content will come directly from nonprofits and will include 3 years of reporting across 8 metrics, including constituents served, program expenditures, and expenditures to acquire and cultivate donors.
DMA is an association of nonprofits and charitable fundraisers that focuses on providing education about fundraising. DMA has long been at odds with third party reporting sites like Charity Navigator and CharityWatch.
So what do the charity watchdogs think of nonprofit self-reporting? You guessed right, they are not impressed. Vice President of Marketing at Charity Navigator, Sandra Miniutti, argued against use of the site, explaining, “[t]here’s no independent scrutiny or analysis which would provide a benefit to a donor.”
But is this an instance of the pot calling the kettle black? There has been mistrust of some of DMA’s members, who are sometimes thought of as merciless direct marketers. But there has also been mistrust of the rating systems used by watchdogs like Charity Navigator.
DMA believes that the watchdogs don’t always portray a fair view of fundraising efforts and focus too much on the short term. Instead, the Dashboard will look to longer term data about fundraising efforts and programmatic achievements. DMA has an ethics committee that will investigate if a member is accused of misrepresenting financial information on the Dashboard.
Where do you look for information about an organization before you donate?