There has been a recent, steady stream of stories in the media uncovering corruption at the highest levels of popular Australian charities.
Early last year, former New South Wales RSL president Don Rowe was accused of grossly misusing charity money for his own private use (mortgage repayments, fancy hotels, family flights… you know the drill).
And just a few months ago, an ex-manager with Guide Dogs Victoria was accused of stealing large sums of money from the charity to take care of his pesky home renovations.
In light of this, it is unsurprising that a recent study released by Koda Capital shows that Australians are becoming less trusting of charities. Trust levels have reportedly decreased by 13 per cent in just three years, resulting in fewer donations.
So what’s the solution?
Well, Jessica Bowman, founder of The Good Cause Co., shares our concerns. She has set out to clear the fog with the “Should I Give To…” series – a compilation of independent expert reviews on the quality of well-known Australian charities, including World Vision Australia, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Greenpeace Australia Pacific and more.
In short, The Good Cause Co., led by Bowman, conducts in-depth analysis on our ‘beloved’ Aussie charities and provides one of three recommendations based on the findings: ‘Do Not Donate’, ‘Donate’, or ‘Donate With Confidence’.
According to their website:
“We have undertaken due diligence on well-known Australian charities so you know who is most effective and who is not. We ask the right questions to help you understand what each charity does, how they use their money, and the results they achieve. We want you to feel good about giving.”
The initiative is the first of its kind in Australia and gives the public free access to independent and unbiased expert opinions on some of the major charity players.
The best part? The Good Cause Co. is not afraid to tell it how it is. The results are often surprising, with some larger charities, such as RSPCA Australia, receiving a ‘Do Not Donate’ recommendation.
With over ten years of experience evaluating and designing high-impact social programs, Bowman developed this initiative after watching too many people lose faith in the effectiveness of charities as a result of bad experiences.
In a media release she stated:
“We want to give money to charities, but the reality is that a bad experience can really turn us off giving. What do I mean by a bad experience? When you give a large donation, I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars, with no thanks, or, when you read a news article about charity money being wasted. Or in my case, when I volunteered with a charity that turned out to be corrupt.
The reality is that the charity sector is like any other sector. There are a few players that give the industry a bad name. The vast majority of charities, however, are just fine at doing their job. But also like any industry, there are some real star performers.”
Should I Give To… is therefore not just about highlighting the charities who aren’t up to standard, but also recognising those who are going above and beyond to achieve their goals and using donations to truly make a difference.
When assessing a charity, The Good Cause Co. predominantly considers whether the charity demonstrates “it is trustworthy and effective at achieving its mission”.
They only use information that is readily accessible to the public in determining whether a charity is worth donating to. Bowman and her team also review the charity’s financial information, by who and how the charity is run, and determine if there is enough evidence showing that the charity is making an impact.
Since their launch in April 2018, The Good Cause Co. has undertaken more than 50 critical reviews of Aussie charities that are seeking donations. The overall findings, accompanied by explanations and friendly advice, can be viewed on their website and are organised into categories such as ‘Veteran’, ‘Elderly’, ‘Religious’ and ‘Disadvantaged Australians’.
The site makes it easy to read about the charities that are of most interest to you – and your purse!
If you’re looking for more detailed information on an individual charity, Bowman told Techly that the complete evaluation reports for each charity are readily available for download for A$50. The Good Cause Co. also undertakes commissioned reports for charities not yet listed.
[Feature image courtesy of RawPixel]