Philanthropy Management Magazine: Many Foundations Measure Success with Meaningless Criteria

Jan 17, 2013, 14:52 ET from Philanthropy Management

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest issue of Philanthropy Management reveals that foundations are often asked by major donors to measure philanthropic results with meaningless criteria. 

According to editor Richard Schwartz, "The desire of donors to understand the impact of the programs they support is admirable, but there is an inadvertent tendency to focus on criteria that is tangential to the long-term benefit."

Schwartz explained that if a foundation is asked by donors to account for how many schools it has built or teachers it has hired, this does not provide insight into how many students the schools attract, the quality of the schools' training programs or the percentage of students who successfully complete the coursework. "Part of the problem is that fundraisers answer the questions funders ask even when they're not good questions," said Tris Lumley, head of development at New Philanthropy Capital. One challenge is that the global philanthropic community has yet to develop a universal set of measurement guidelines. "If my charity is trying to improve mental health in Africa and yours is trying to improve educational attainment in the UK, there is no single measure of achievement," Lumley noted.

Nathalie Sauvanet, head of individual philanthropy at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, encourages donors to devote more resources to evaluating metrics that can produce actionable insights, before asking a foundation to provide measurement data. This requires a time commitment not only from benefactors but from beneficiaries and external experts.

The complete story is available in the print edition and at

About Philanthropy Management
Philanthropy Management, an Asset International publication, focuses on the financial, operational and strategic services provided to foundations, endowments and other large-scale grant makers by banks, asset managers and other professional advisors. Edited by Richard Schwartz, it is distributed globally to more than 11,000 senior executives within the largest grant making entities in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Middle East, including foundations and endowments, family foundations and family offices.  Philanthropy Management aims to provide philanthropic institutions with a broader and more refined range of tools, resources and research to measure their own success and the impact of the advisors they use. Please visit

About Asset International
Asset International is a privately-held provider of information and technology to global pension funds, asset managers, financial advisers, banking service providers, and other financial institutions in the private and public sector. Its industry-leading brands include Strategic Insight, SIMFUND, Plan For Life, PLANSPONSOR, PLANADVISER, aiCIO, Philanthropy Management, Global Custodian, and The Trade. The company has offices in New York, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne and Stamford, CT.

SOURCE Philanthropy Management