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 partner nonprofits in Guatemala. 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 started, we combined our nonprofit experience, with Academic literature and models from development organizations such as the UN, USAID and DFiD. The 5 Evaluation Pillars of Sustainability, Transparency, Efficiency, Impact, Need were decided upon.

Relevant questions relating to each pillar were created whilst balancing common foreign donor expectations with Guatemalan realities. We created a nonprofit questionnaire which we filled out at every nonprofit visit. All this information, in conjunction with background research was collated into a nonprofit report for each organization.

A More Measurable Approach

As more nonprofits showed interest in partnering 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. This is because we felt that applying a rating system would encourage unfair comparisons leaving little room for meaningful differentiation. 

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 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.

In order to continue championing smaller organizations who are making an effort to improve their nonprofit practices, Pionero Philanthropy has 2 pathways for organizations to achieve a Gold Seal of Excellence

We are also introducing specific awards for organizations that score high in specific evaluation areas of donor interest.

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 the Guatemalan nonprofit sector?

1. Data Driven Comparisons are Beneficial for Research

Although we understand the value in subjective, narrative information, numerical data was lacking in our evaluation process. We also 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.

Pionero Philanthropy also has a Nonprofit Resource Center which 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 Partner Nonprofits

We hope that promoting our partner 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 partner 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 partners and carrying out the methodology from scratch with new partners visits.

Cada Niño was Pionero Philanthropy’s first pilot evaluation of its new methodology rating system. Pionero was very impressed with the Guatemala based nonprofit’s response to their evaluation and the efforts they made to improve their rating in key areas of Sustainability, Transparency, Efficiency, Impact and Relevance.

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

We are very impressed with Cada Niño’s response to the new rating system. The nonprofit 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.