How do you judge whether a non-profit organization is doing a good job? This is an important issue both for NPOs themselves and for donors. Unfortunately, it is also one about which there is little agreement even within the NPO community.
In most walks of life in the late twentieth century, the consumer is king. Standards in industry, food production, hospitals and so on are carefully regulated, and the consumer can look for certain ‘kitemarks’ or industry standard numbers as verification. In a broader sense, consumers are increasingly told what they can expect by way of good practice. In the UK, for instance, this has materialized in the form of ‘charters’, statements of what the consumer as passenger, patient, parent, etc should expect.
The consumer as donor
But what about the consumer as donor? Somewhere between the rigid technical requirements of industry standards and the knee-jerk populism of charters, it ought to be possible to identify a set of widely accepted criteria by which a non-profit organization can be judged. In most countries of the world this is not the case. Certainly there is no universal standard.