November 29, 2012

Social Impact 100: Who’s really effecting change?

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New giving platform helps donors direct their dollars to high-impact nonprofits

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Guest post by Tamara Schweitzer
Social Impact Exchange

The giving season is upon us and it’s the time of year when many around the country are thinking about the greater social good and gearing up to make their charitable donations. With crowdfunding platforms and the opportunity to donate online through social media outlets, the act of giving to charities and discovering new causes has never been easier. But it’s not always easy to determine where those dollars can do the most good, or to truly know if those donations are having a real impact.

The Social Impact Exchange, a national membership association dedicated to building a capital marketplace to help scale high-impact social solutions, hopes to change that with the launch of the Social Impact 100 (S&I 100). The S&I 100 is the first-ever broad index of U.S. nonprofits working in the issue areas of education, youth, poverty and health that have evidence of results and are growing to serve more people in need.

One of the main goals in creating the index is to help nonprofits on the platform find the funds they need to continue growing, while also serving as a site that empowers donors to increase the impact of their charitable giving. Similar to the way the S&P 500 Index provides individual investors with the information they need to invest with confidence, the S&I 100 is an online resource that allows donors to access vital information about an organization’s current and future potential to make a difference.

How nonprofits make it into the index

Child First and Big Brothers Big Sisters, two members of the S&I 100.

Unlike other charity ratings websites and online giving platforms, the organizations included on the S&I 100 Index have been rigorously screened for evidence of impact through third-party verified studies and are only included on the index if the NPO has the ability to serve more people in need. In addition to the 100 organizations listed, the platform features nearly 16,000 local affiliates that are implementing their solutions.

All of the organizations that are part of the S&I 100 went through an application vetting process that the Exchange designed in collaboration with evaluation firms, ratings firms and other social sector leaders and experts. Along with access to individual evaluation studies, the S&I 100 also allows donors to view each organization’s plans for future growth, current and prior year budget and actuals, current locations, and major funders that are supporting them. When donors visit the site, they can search for organizations by issue area and by state, and they also have the option to give directly to the organization via its “donate now” button that links to the organization’s donation page.

Over time, we will expand the S&I 100 as we identify additional nonprofits that meet the criteria, and we will continue to collaborate with experts across the field to accommodate additional scaling initiatives and to help make the Index more accessible to donors. Ultimately, our hope is that by making it easier for donors to identify and give to high-impact organizations that are growing, we can begin to create the conditions for philanthropic giving to achieve major positive change. In building a marketplace that efficiently delivers capital to the most effective nonprofits, organizations can focus on doing the work they do best, and continue to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the country.

Tamara Schweitzer, former editor of Socialbrite, is the Knowledge Management Associate at the Social Impact Exchange, a national membership association dedicated to building a capital marketplace that scales high-impact social solutions. She also works as part of the Nonprofit Team at the Exchange that oversees the S&I 100. Follow the Exchange on Twitter at @SIExchange and Tamara at @tschweitzer.
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