Elements of What makes a good charity: purpose; impact practice; people; and finance and operations

So… what actually makes a ‘good’ charity?

By Ruth Gripper 30 September 2016 5 minute read

This week we launched a new guide to charity analysis What makes a good charity? Here, the report’s co-author Ruth Gripper explains what the guide is, and how it can help both charities and donors understand what an effective charity looks like.

What makes a good charity? Anyone who has ever donated to charity has probably asked themselves this kind of question—I know I have, and I work in the sector! Since starting at NPC (and particularly following the dramatic demise of Kids Company last summer) friends and family have been asking me this question, too. How do I know that my donation will be put to good use? Will it really make a difference?

Meanwhile, ask anyone working in the sector, whether as staff, volunteer or trustee, and they will be able to give examples of what does—and doesn’t—help charities to be more effective. They’ll probably offer examples of particularly good (or bad) practice they have seen or experienced in a certain area. Yet it can at times be tough to apply this criteria to the very charity you work for, or to look beyond your own area of expertise to the organisation as a whole.

When supporting a charity—whether that’s through funding, or through working for one—decision-making involves a constant balance of head and heart. At NPC, we aim to ensure that the ‘head’ part of that equation plays its full role—so that individual passions can be harnessed to really make a difference.

Charity analysis is a really good way of striking this balance. It helps charities and social enterprises review and improve their performance, and it helps funders make informed decisions about where to focus support.

So this week we published What makes a good charity? NPC’s guide to charity analysis. It outlines our answer to this frequently asked question in a step-by-step format that anyone can use.

In it, we set out the four key areas of effectiveness—purpose, impact practice, people, and finance & operations—and what to look out for in each. We discuss what good looks like, as well as the signs that should set alarm bells going. All with the aim of charities and their funders understanding best practice for making a difference.

NPC has been using analysis to help our clients with these questions since we were set up nearly 15 years ago. I’ve done a rough and ready calculation, and between the team we are talking about a total of more than 100 years’ experience—all of which has given us quite a lot to say on this issue!

We’ll be exploring each of the four themes on the blog over the coming weeks, but in the meantime you can read more in What makes a good charity? Do let us know what you think over on Twitter: @NPCthinks #CharityAnalysis.

Co-author of the guide and head of NPC’s charity team, Iona Joy says:

What makes a good charity? draws on everything we’ve learnt from working with charities and funders over the past 15 years. We hope it kick starts lots of conversations and inspires new ways of doing things.