Rating Guatemalan Nonprofits – a force for growth in the sector

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Pionero Philanthropy has been working on refining its approach regarding the rating of current and future member Guatemalan nonprofits. After taking into consideration our research, experience, and feedback, we are excited to announce some changes to our evaluation system.

The Original “Clunky” Methodology 

When Pionero Philanthropy started, we combined our nonprofit experience, with academic literature and models from development organizations such as the UN, USAID and DFiD. 5 Evaluation Pillars we decided upon; Sustainability, Transparency, Efficiency, Impact, and Need/Relevance.

Pionero created questions relating to each pillar whilst balancing common foreign donor expectations and Guatemala’s reality. We created a nonprofit questionnaire which we filled out at every nonprofit visit. We collated all this information into a report for each Guatemalan nonprofit.

A More Measurable Approach

Pionero seals

As more nonprofits showed interest in becoming members and as we updated nonprofit reports, it became clear that we needed to implement some form of rating system.

Originally, we resisted implementing such a system because we felt that applying a rating system would encourage unfair comparisons.

We feared that a rating system would disadvantage smaller nonprofits because larger organizations are usually better positioned to satisfy stricter donor requirements. We were concerned that donors would disregard smaller Guatemalan nonprofits who have impressive potential for exponential impact within their communities.

The Pionero Philanthropy Scoring System

In order to combat concerns, level the playing field, and champion organizations making a concerted effort to improve, we decided to implement 2 routes to getting a Gold Seal of Excellence.

gold seal pathways
In order to continue championing smaller Guatemalan nonprofits that are making an effort to improve their practices, Pionero Philanthropy created has 2 pathways for organizations to achieve a Gold Seal of Excellence.

What’s more, we also introduced Awards for organizations that score high in specific evaluation areas of donor interest.

awards for pionero
Pionero Philanthropy hopes that these new awards will assist donors and information seekers to select organizations based on these criteria.

The Benefits of a Rating System 

So what changed Pionero Philanthropy’s mind to implement a rating system? Why is a scoring system beneficial to Guatemalan nonprofits?

1. Data Driven Comparisons are Beneficial for Research

Although we understand the value in subjective and narrative information we felt that numerical data was lacking in our evaluation process. In addition, we wanted to perform more analyses across datasets which is best performed by using numbers.

We hope that the data collected and available on our website will be useful to many actors. These stakeholders include nonprofits, donors, academics and more.

2. Data-Driven Comparisons Pinpoint Areas of Improvement 

0-2 points are available for each of the 50 subcategories. Allocating points enables nonprofits to identify and focus on areas for improvement.

Furthermore, Pionero Philanthropy has a Nonprofit Resource Center that contains details of each measurement and supporting resources. These tools aim to assist nonprofits in taking immediate action to improve their scores.

3. The Rating System can Empower Nonprofits and Increase Awareness of Donor Expectations 

The Pionero rating system is based on 50 Academic Best Practices based on US donor standards. They are adapted to the Guatemala nonprofit context.

Through spotlighting donor standards, we hope that nonprofits will be well prepared to respond to foreign donor standards independent from Pionero Philanthropy. We hope this translates into more funding and growth opportunities in the future!

4. The System Encourages Sector-Wide Growth and Investment

Through the rating system, we hope in the long term to support the sector and drive more investment and attention to the country. 

5. Ratings and Seals of Excellence are Quick Visual Tools to Promote Member Nonprofits

We hope that promoting our member nonprofits and their Seals and awards, that donors and collaborators will feel confident in contacting them thanks to Pionero’s Independent verification.

Furthermore, we hope our member nonprofits will display their seals in external communications. This we hope will increase outside interest in these great causes.

Implementation of the Rating System

Pionero Philanthropy will be implementing its new rating system where staff will be repeating in person visits to current members and carrying out the methodology from scratch with new member visits.

cada niño photo
Cada Niño was Pionero Philanthropy’s first pilot evaluation of its new methodology rating system. The nonprofit’s response to their evaluation impressed Pionero Philanthropy.

A pilot evaluation gave encouraging results from the Guatemala City education based nonprofit, Cada Niño.

Cada Niño’s response to the new rating system very much impressed Pionero. The organization managed to make substantial improvements which drastically improved their rating.

We hope that improvements to ratings and their resulting impacts will lead to a more prosperous Guatemalan nonprofit sector.

For more information about our rating system and methodology, please get in touch! We would love to connect with you.