Why the emphasis on research?

Research and a commitment to progress are the foundations of Kinder’s effort to disrupt the charitable sector. We believe a lack of insight about the workings of individual charities and the charitable sector, in general, is the main reason behind the decrease of trust in the sector and the decrease in giving. That’s why research and data are the main drivers of our actions. We use a custom vetting framework to evaluate charitable organisations and share the insight we gather from our research with both organisations themselves and the people who are looking for ways to improve the world, potential donors.

Our aim

The aim of our research is to help the charitable sector effectively tackle the global challenges of our time. We want to achieve this by taking the following steps:

  • Collect in-depth information about charitable organisations
  • Use our findings to consult charitable organisations to improve their performance

What is a “vetting framework”?

To vet, a term that you’ll often run into in the charitable sector lingo, essentially means to carefully examine something. In our case, vetting means gathering information on charitable organisations to evaluate their accountability, and that’s exactly what our vetting framework is designed to do.

Vetting can be quite complex in certain contexts, but for us, it’s important to keep it accessible so that everyone who is interested in the process itself and the results can comfortably contribute. For this exact reason, we have developed a bespoke vetting framework with the help of researchers from Impact Centre Erasmus that is elegant yet simple. Our analysis of organisations is based on publicly available information on these organisations’ websites. We’ve analysed over 2000 charitable organisations so far thanks to our research department and a dedicated team of 63 vetting volunteers. Essentially, we would like our vetting process to become open source so everyone from all over the world can contribute to the improvement of the charitable sector.

The current framework we use is the third iteration, but definitely not the last. We periodically reflect on our own plans, programmes, and actions and adjust accordingly.  We advocate for continuous self-evaluation and progress, how hypocritical would it be if we didn’t perform it ourselves? 

How does it work?

Our vetting consists of four stages, Basic Analysis, In-depth Analysis, Intervention Effectiveness and Cause Area Analysis. Each stage has several sub-categories and numerous  yes or no questions such as “Does the organisation publish their financial statements?” We only use the information on organisations’ websites to answer these questions because we believe everyone, researcher or not, should have access to the answers. Currently, our vetting team analyses organisations based on the first two stages.

Stage 1: Basic Analysis

This stage, as its name suggests, focuses on five basic requirements that we believe show an organisation is accountable and transparent. These requirements are:

  1. Being easily reachable

  2. Providing information about the organisation’s board members and key staff

  3. Publishing financial statements

  4. Making the organisation’s strategic plans public

  5. Dealing with controversy appropriately (if applicable)

It might seem like these five requirements are not much to ask, and they aren’t, yet as we were developing our framework we’ve discovered that a sizeable amount of organisations fail this stage. This is where the consultancy elements of Kinder comes in, based on these results we give organisations custom advice so they can start making the required information public and pass our stages.

Stage 2: In-depth Analysis

We believe every organization should have the capacity to reflect on past mistakes, plan well for the future, monitor and evaluate their own programs closely, engage with research, and strive to act ethically and with integrity.

Organisations that are competent in terms of planning and execution of programs while interacting with research are more likely to get things done effectively. In this stage, we have 41 questions in the four areas below.

1) Strategy
2) Programs
3) Research
4) Responsibility

Stage 1 and 2 are our currently active vetting stages. Do you work for an organisation and want to be vetted? Send us an email and we’ll add you to our list. Are you not a part of an organisation but still want to be involved? Check our vacancies and see if anything piques your interest

The future of Kinder’s research

As we add more organisations and more vetters to our doing-good ecosystem we will add two more stages to our active vetting. We have the foundations of our later stages ready and we’re using the experience and insight we gain from our current strategy to further improve them. Below, you’ll find brief descriptions for the upcoming stages 3 and 4 of the Kinder Vetting Framework. 

Stage 3: Intervention Effectiveness

The third stage of the vetting process focuses on the effectiveness of interventions. Here we ask the crucial question: do the programs these organizations employ even work? And what about their cost-effectiveness compared to other interventions that tackle the same problem?

Naturally, this is a very tricky thing, and overstating our ability to deal with this knotty problem would be a big mistake. Thankfully, many organizations care about intervention effectiveness as well, such as GiveWell and 3IE impact, so we are not alone in our effort to gather information on effective interventions.

Stage 4: Cause Area Analysis

Something we are passionate about is providing unbiased information to people and letting them make their own donation decisions. That’s why we refrain from making value judgements when talking about charitable organisations and causes. However, we also believe that we are responsible to share the contextual information about cause areas candidly, especially on a level of sector analysis. We will compare sectors within different cause areas. Therefore, if you are interested in animal welfare, we give you the deets on the relative performance of animal advocacy, compared to, for instance, wildlife conservation.

Want to know more about our research? Click to download the guide to our vetting framework.