On December 3, Giving Tuesday—on which donors big and small are expected to give a total of $502 million to all sorts of nonprofits—it can be hard to know if you’re choosing the right organization, or if your donated dollars are being well spent.
ImpactMatters is a startup that wants to help donors identify “high-impact” nonprofits, meaning organizations that actually make an impact with your donations, and do it in a cost-effective way. Ahead of Giving Tuesday, ImpactMatters launched a few tools to help make this generosity count: a new nonprofit rating service, an impact calculator, and giving guides that highlight nonprofits by region and cause.
Elijah Goldberg, cofounder and executive director of ImpactMatters, says that the startup came out of two gaps he and his cofounders saw in the philanthropy space: One was the lack of information for donors about the impact of their gift, making it hard to know how to give effectively; and second was that for these “high-impact” nonprofits, they weren’t often being featured in successful ways for their great work.
There are other charity ranking options out there, like Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, but Goldberg says ImpactMatters does things differently. Those other rating systems mostly measure transparency and accountability, based on tax data and other publicly available information. “On the other side, we’re looking at what the organization is achieving with the dollar,” Goldberg says. “If an organization is going to send money to achieve some sort of outcome, what outcomes are actually generated?”
Whether it’s a food program or a tree-planting organization or a nonprofit to help the homeless, ImpactMatters identifies the right metrics of success for each individual type of charity. “That might be CO2 sequestered or it might be nights of shelter provided, and so forth, and we use that metric basically to assess the organization,” says Goldberg. “We put that into a model that we built, and we come out with an impact statement, which is basically just an estimate of how much good is created for a dollar.”
Benefactors can use these metrics in multiple ways. There’s a search function on the ImpactMatters site to look up a specific nonprofit or filter by cause, program type, or beneficiaries served. There’s an impact calculator that allows donors to see the specific impact of their monetary gift (for example, giving $25 to Evidence Action provides clean water for 50 people for a year, per the site). And there are the curated giving guides that let givers explore the most effective nonprofits by region, if you want to give back to your community, or by cause, from clean water to education to veteran-focused charities.
“We think that there are lots of really great organizations out there that are doing good things with their donations, and that’s not always clear or easy to determine by donors,” Goldberg says. “We’re trying to make that discovery process easier, so as a donor, [you can say], ‘You know, I care about this issue, I care about this cause, and I really want to make a difference. Where can I go?’ We’re providing that level of information for them.”