The Emerging Metrics of Doing Good

Global poverty delivers a miserable ROI in the wasted potential of human lives. Talent that goes untapped. Disease and decay. Hopelessness. Fortunately, the battle against global poverty is now showing reasons for hope.

Despite conventional wisdom, the accurate headline is that investments to fight abject global poverty are yielding incredible returns. While that’s good news in itself, the subhead indicates that we have a new ally in doing good: independent, empirically tested outcomes for charitable work.

doing good

The movement toward outcomes-based research of nonprofit ventures has been growing in the past several years. It’s a younger discipline, but one that holds promise for charitable givers and altruistic investors.

Even Bono has added a new self-description to his rocker persona. He’s now a self-proclaimed “factivist” — a devotee of data-based hope that abject poverty can be alleviated by 2030.

Anyone who has not yet seen his TED Talk from February 2013 will be impressed with the data-driven progress he cites in his 14-minute presentation.

But he isn’t a soloist in this song of hope.

In 2011, Dr. Scott Todd’s book, Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty, detailed that trends are in hope’s favor when it comes to releasing people from extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.

What’s more, he’s been an early voice against low expectations, speaking at conferences and churches about the trends in diminishing child deaths. It used to be that NGOs quoted 40,000 deaths a day due to preventable causes among children under age 5. By the 1990s, Todd says, the number dropped to 28,000.

And recently, UNICEF announced that this figure has been slashed again to 19,000 a day (Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report, 2012).

This means our motivation for giving to global poverty causes doesn’t have to rest solely on a desire to do good or a nonprofit’s track record for financial accountability. Doing good can be researched and empirically validated.

In his study, Does International Child Sponsorship Work? published in the prestigious Journal of Political Economy in April 2013, Dr. Bruce Wydick reported “large and statistically significant impacts” for adults who were part of Compassion’s sponsorship program as children from 1980 to 1992.

The six-country, 10,000-subject research found that adults formerly sponsored through Compassion stayed in school longer. As a result, they were more likely to earn a white-collar, salaried position instead of seasonal, menial labor. And they were more likely to be leaders in their communities and churches.

While the findings are reaffirming for Compassion sponsors, they’re life-changing for the adults who now live different futures than their parents. And the data are bursting with hope for children in Compassion’s program today. But let’s not stop there …

Read the entire post at Huffington Post

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