September 3, 2010
DMA-Funded Studies Criticize Watchdog Groups
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the Direct Marketing Association's Nonprofit Federation paid for and released two reports that criticized both the evaluation systems used by various charity watchdog organizations and the effect on charities of such evaluations. The criticized organizations were the American Institute of Philanthropy (which operates the Charity Watch website), the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator. George Mitchell, a doctoral student affiliated with the Transnational NGO Initiative at Maxwell School of Syracuse University prepared one report, which he based on in-depth interviews with leaders from 152 nonprofit organizations. Jessica Sowa, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver's School of Public Affairs, prepared the other report (for which I could not find a publicly available Internet copy), which compared current charity rating scales against research on nonprofit organizational effectiveness. The Chronicle of Philanthropy article includes responses from leaders of the watchdog groups, some of whom questioned the impartiality of the studies given their funding source.
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