How impact will revolutionize the charitable sector

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The world of charitable giving is increasingly leaning towards the notion that doing good isn't enough. How to make the most impact from your effort is what matters.

Have you already noticed this trend on LinkedIn where people use the headline for emphasis instead of simply listing their job position? Indeed, "impact" as a catchphrase is trending these days. Not least in the charitable sector; I can’t even remember the last event I visited that was not about impact.

This is a good thing. How can one work for a charitable cause and not care about the impact they achieve? So I warmly applaud all these sector initiatives around discussing impact, measuring impact, and training staff on impact.

With all this attention for impact it keeps surprising me that the focus on maximising impact is so limited. In the commercial ecosystem, maximisation comes naturally for companies and consumers alike. All other things being equal, who would prefer a bank account that offers a 0.03% interest rate over one that offers a 3% interest rate?

At the same time, in the charitable ecosystem this maximising component seems largely lacking. Organisations that hand out school uniforms are eager to show the whole world how many children they have kept in school, but would they have the guts to drop this program if research were to reveal that in order to increase school attendance, supplying deworming pills is probably more than 100 times as impactful? That leaves the uniforms NGO to be pretty much like the 0.03% interest rate bank, doesn’t it?

To me, the current impact hype is just the beginning of a revolution to maximise impact in the charitable sector. It is the responsibility of both the charitable organisations and the donors to move beyond the 0.03% interest rate banks and create a sector that does as much good as possible.

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