Martin Brookes: Intelligent Giving won't fade away

The chief executive of funder advice charity New Philanthropy Capital explains his organisation's plans for the future of the controversial donor information website

Martin Brookes, chief executive, NPC
Martin Brookes, chief executive, NPC

At the beginning of August, Intelligent Giving contacted New Philanthropy Capital to see if we would be interested in taking on its work.

Financial difficulties meant that the charity was facing closure, but NPC saw it as a service worth preserving. Intelligent Giving has encouraged important debate around efficiency and effectiveness in the charity sector, and we saw the potential in aligning its push for transparency with our own goal of helping charities and funders to be more effective.

Through the takeover, NPC will inherit Intelligent Giving's brand, database and methodology. It is a move that has been supported by the Charity Commission, whose chief executive, Andrew Hind, said: "Organisations providing information about and analysis of charities are an important part of increasing transparency and accountability to the public, and can help to make charities more effective.

"Such initiatives between charities are to be welcomed, because they add to the range of available analysis about charity activity."

Intelligent Giving has never been afraid of controversy and, as a result, it has encouraged important debate about efficiency and effectiveness. NPC has not always agreed with Intelligent Giving's point of view, but we have welcomed the discussions it has stimulated, encouraging people to think about their giving.

NPC believes that it is important to be provocative and challenging, as long as the end goal of supporting charities to become more effective is not forgotten.

NPC has an ambitious vision: to create a world in which charities and their funders are as effective as possible in changing people's lives and in tackling social problems. Preserving Intelligent Giving could help to achieve that goal.
 
Since we announced our decision last week, there have been lots of questions about how Intelligent Giving will continue to exist and in what form. NPC is keen not to lose what Intelligent Giving has learned.
 
Over the coming months, we will undertake a research project to draw on Intelligent Giving's knowledge and experience, to see how its focus on transparency fits with NPC's focus on effectiveness.

NPC is also considering how to take forward Intelligent Giving's website, which is a great source of information, is easy to understand, and contains lots of useful information. We will therefore make sure that the website is still active, but for now we will not be updating it.
 
We are looking at how the website could be developed in the future, as it would be a shame to let this brand fade away. When development does happen, we will build in evaluation, tracking users to find out who is using it and what impact it is having.

If anything, the story of Intelligent Giving and its financial problems brings to the fore the argument for better support of organisations that are trying to improve transparency and effectiveness in the charity sector.
 
NPC aims to build a marketplace in which charitable funding is based on results and evidence, and charities and funders are enabled to be effective, through information, analysis and research. But this work costs, and it is time that funders, including the government, recognised the need for greater support.

Intelligent Giving was playing a part in increasing information and building this marketplace, so it is regrettable that it has faced closure. But, as highlighted in NPC's recent report What place for mergers between charities?, charities sometimes merge because they see something worth keeping and their missions are aligned.

This is such a case. Preserving some of the work of Intelligent Giving, and learning from its experience, will add something of value to NPC and to the sector.

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