Rotten Tomatoes & Qualitative Analysis

Greetings Benjamin Philanthropists,

You have spent the last week crunching numbers and looking at different charity’s spending ratios.

As Alec wrote in his blog:

“The 990 for The Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County revealed that the organization was financially stable and devoting funds to the right programs. The program ratio for the organization was 90.7% meaning that over 9o% of total expenses were allocated to programs by the organization. The management ratio was 4.6%, and the fundraising ratio was 4.2%.” 

This week, we turn our attention to the other side of the coin: QUALITATIVE analysis. In one sense, the definition of qualitative is simply that which is uncountable. So we look at an organization’s markers of quality rather than simply number of dollars raised or programs launched or people fed.

So what does this have to do with Rotten Tomatoes, a website that gathers reviews from professional critics and average moviegoers?

rotten-tomatoesWell, for one thing, this is an example of a powerful rating system that is entirely qualitative…you don’t read movie critics citing the number of cast members in a movie or number of costume changes to defend their recommendations. Sometimes they mention a film’s budget, but it’s easy to think of indie and blockbuster movies that received critical acclaim.

In his blog, Tactical Philanthropy, Sean Stannard-Stockton wonders why we don’t create a similar platform for charities: “So enough with administrative expense ratios. Enough with the focus on the salary of charity officials. I want to know which nonprofits are any good and I don’t think there’s any number you can show me that will answer that question.”

What is the experience of volunteers? What about populations served by a charity, how do they feel about the assistance they are getting? A qualitative platform that could integrate the voices of staff, beneficiaries, volunteers, donors and board members would provide a much needed supplement to the Form 990.

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