While there is an increasing number of organizations supplying information and advising services to philanthropists, our approach is uniquely guided by our focus on social impact and the necessity to be both actionable and evidence-based. We start by asking and answering a series of questions:
- Is the change/impact not only measurable but meaningful in the lives of others?
- What do we know works? What doesn’t?
- Where there has been success, how much does change/impact cost?
- What organizations are best positioned to deliver this change/impact?
By evidence-based, we mean accessing the best available information from three sources: rigorous research, informed opinion, and field experience. From all three sources, we seek an empirical understanding of where the unmet needs are, what practices address those needs well, what social impact they generate, and how much change costs. By tapping all three sources, we leverage the strengths of each, while mitigating its weaknesses. Where all three sources point to the same practice or model, we see a high impact philanthropic opportunity.
But evidence alone does not lead to impact. Action does. To ensure our resources are actionable, we work to understand how individual donors and their advisors make decisions that can lead to greater impact. We provide information on models and benchmarks that donors can use to evaluate the best opportunities for making a meaningful difference. And since all practical allocation decisions require an understanding of the link between cost and impact, we provide cost-impact profiles in our in-depth case examples. Finally, we conduct the hard work of translating our evidence into language that is easily accessible to individual donors and those who advise them.