Intelligent Giving: end of an era

The website that aimed to improve the quality of charity reporting will close in its current form this week. Kaye Wiggins looks back on a turbulent history

Intelligent Giving logo
Intelligent Giving logo

It has survived slanging matches and threats of violence, but after less than three years, a lack of funds has forced donor advice website Intelligent Giving to close in its present form.
The organisation, founded in November 2006 by journalist David Pitchford, was funded largely by fellow journalist Peter Heywood, a major benefactor since its launch. But Adam Rothwell, former director of Intelligent Giving, told Third Sector that Heywood "isn't endlessly wealthy and he couldn't commit to keeping it running on his own".

The site is now under the wing of funder advice charity New Philanthropy Capital. Martin Brookes, chief executive of NPC, said: "Intelligent Giving is about transparency, whereas NPC is about analysing effectiveness, so we'll be looking for ways to combine the two.

"I would like to keep the name and the website running, even after Intelligent Giving is deregistered as a charity. We don't intend to subsume it completely into NPC, but its tone may be altered."

Rothwell, now a teacher, said the demise of Intelligent Giving was a sign of the funding difficulties the sector faced. "It has never had a sustainable funding strategy and has always struggled to get grants," he said.

Having marked itself out as a critical voice, the website wasn't short of enemies. Pitchford once wrote: "You might think we sit here all day, mouthing off and writing charity profiles. In reality, we're often in fear for our sanity - if not our lives - as we feel the world of The Very Angry encroach upon us."

He was referring to "angry Dave", who claimed to be from "Chelsea Media" and left an answering machine message threatening staff from Intelligent Giving with a "punch in the face" after it published a critical piece on football clubs' charitable giving.

Alongside Dave on the site's list of "people who don't like us" was Megan Pacey, former director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising, who branded the site "the latest addition to the plethora of website-based, self-appointed ‘charity watchdogs' that use crude and rudimentary league table-style mechanisms to rate charities."

Meanwhile, Intelligent Giving's director, Richard Marsh, who was director of the Impact Coalition until it was taken over by chief executives body Acevo in April this year, is looking for a job. "I've toyed with the idea of setting up a website called ‘'," he joked.

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