Charity Support, Advice, Impact Measurement, Philanthropy Impact – NPC

The power of Beyoncé

By Anne Kazimirski 7 June 2013

On Saturday, 50,000 people gathered to see Beyoncé, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and other illustrious names at Twickenham Stadium. This was ‘Sound for Change’, a concert which is part of the Chime for Change campaign, founded by Gucci to raise funds and awareness for girls’ and women’s empowerment.

Chime for Change is powered by Catapult, a US-based crowd-funding site focused on women’s issues, through which people can donate directly to up to 120 different projects around the world.

The Catapult website is impressive—part of me loves it. You can pick projects by country, topic (‘education’, ‘maternal health’) or stage of life (‘baby’, ‘teen’, ‘mother’). The stories and pictures are powerful, the process  is simple, and you receive updates from the projects you donate to.

In the context of a high level of need, this is one way to bridge the gap. I’m all in favour of increasing the flow of private donations to women’s projects.  I personally actively support and campaign for women’s rights. So why does another part of me get a sense of unease when perusing the website?

I think it’s because it all feels a bit flippant, and a little too much like online grocery shopping. I know most people donate to charity because they’re moved by the cause rather than any assessment of the charity’s effectiveness (see our Money for Good UK report on this), but it all feels a touch too easy.

Some of the projects have information on evaluation plans, including measurement of changes in attitudes or experiences. But it’s brief and not available for all projects. Where’s the evidence on the best way to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya, or raise awareness of changes in women’s rights law in Morocco? I’d like to see more information on the organisations’ track record, however immensely sensible their approaches seem to be.

Choosing (or rejecting) which project to give money to based on a couple of paragraphs doesn’t seem right. They’re all such important issues. At NPC, we encourage everyone, including individual donors, to really think about the impact of charitable work to make the biggest possible difference to people’s lives. Am I being too picky to want an extra button to click on, something like ”Previous evidence on this type of project”?

The concert raised £2.8 million, and no doubt lots of awareness too. I really hope it does achieve change, and I look forward to seeing the evidence.