Impact Measurement

How can nonprofits use data to increase trust?


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Untapped Philanthrop s2e1




Season three of Untapped Philanthropy kicks off with new co-host, Neon One’s Director of Corporate Brand, Tim Sarrantonio, and a guest who came to philanthropy by way of technology: Michael Thatcher. 

Michael currently serves as the President and CEO of Charity Navigator, but prior to making the nonprofit jump, he spent 15 years at Microsoft in a number of roles, eventually becoming CTO for public sector accounts in Africa, the Middle East, and Greater Asia. Much of his work grappled with social and economic change imperatives and explored how regions could use technology as a lever for change. He often worked with the local nonprofits and NGOs and therefore was acutely aware of data that was (or wasn’t) leveraged within these teams.

Together Michael, Fluxx CDO and co-founder, Kerrin Mitchell, and Tim, kick off season three by delving into the Philanthropy Data Commons, how nonprofits can leverage their Charity Navigator rating to be more discoverable for donors, and explore what data means to both sides of the giving coin. 

Untapped Philanthropy Season Three, Episode One: How can nonprofits use data to increase trust?

In the seven years since Michael joined Charity Navigator, he’s been working to change the system of record for nonprofits, improve the Charity navigator rating system, and make nonprofits more discoverable for those who want to support their causes and communities. 

“Charity Navigator helps build a bridge of trust between donors and the charities they want to support. It’s an impediment to giving, particularly in the United States. There’s a lack of trust in the nonprofit sector. So really, our mission is to make impactful philanthropy and giving easier for everyone,” said Michael.

While this mission has taken shape in a number of ways, one of Michael’s most important goals was to expand the work of Charity Navigator — leveraging his background in technology to help scale the work.  

“​​When I joined Charity Navigator, we were rating 8,000 organizations. We were doing it on two access points: accountability and transparency metrics and financial metrics. Today we're rating about 200,000 organizations. We still have the accountability and financial part, but we're also looking at leadership and adaptability. We're looking at culture and community. And for a subset, we're also doing an impact assessment of the work that they're doing,” said Michael.

All this to say, much like Fluxx and Neon One, Charity Navigator now manages a lot of data. Data that Michael and many other advocates believe should be more readily available to funders, nonprofits, and donors. And as a part of the Philanthropy Data Commons, Michael (and your intrepid podcast co-hosts) believe this data should be readily available for nonprofits to leverage for their own impact storytelling.  

“I really do think that the future is in articulating impact. I also think that the word giving may be replaced by the word investing. If people start to invest in social change, they will follow their investments a little bit more closely than some of their giving,” said Michael. 

For a comprehensive list of all Untapped Philanthropy episodes, visit the Fluxx blog, or your favorite podcast listening station, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Episodes of Untapped Philanthropy are released monthly and always shared on the Fluxx blog. We encourage you to subscribe to the Fluxx blog to stay up to date on new episode releases and follow us on social media for podcast excerpts and more! 

Download the transcript here.

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