Kathleen Enright, the CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) wrote this thought-provoking article. Here’s an excerpt:

“[The] work to define effectiveness has typically come from white organizations – prominent consulting firms, think tanks, universities, philanthropy and management support organizations. These institutions – and I count GEO among them – have advanced ideas about effectiveness that have unwittingly perpetuated or even exacerbated inequity in the nonprofit sector.”

As Kathleen says, effectiveness has been defined mainly by white organizations, and because #EffectivenessSoWhite, it has a whole bunch of flaws and causes a lot of problems:

  1. It ignores the voices of the people most affected by injustice.
  2. It uses flawed concepts of data and evaluation.
  3. It minimizes complexity.
  4. It is short-term-focused.
  5. It punishes failure, and rewards risk-aversion.
  6. It uses harmful proxies for quality.
  7. It ignores the intrinsic worth of individuals.
  8. It favors larger, mostly-white-led organizations.

Our sector’s current concept of effectiveness is simplistic, short-sighted, and ignores the values and perspectives of communities most affected by the issues we are working to solve. And yet it is used as an “objective” way to allocate funding and influence. This is extremely dangerous, helping to further the very inequity we are trying to fight.

Read the full article on problems with effectiveness by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.