Canadian Charity Impact Fund Methodology

For around 100 diverse, individual Canadian social service charities, Charity Intelligence (Ci) and Success Markets Inc. (SMI) have quantified the amount of effective help delivered to beneficiaries in a consistent manner using dollar-based figures. These by-charity value estimates are presented in the form of total benefits per donation dollar as Social Returns on Investment (SROI) ratios. These are broken down further into benefits accruing to clients and those to society at large. They provide estimates for total benefits that are highly likely and, above this, include both conservatively estimated and lower probability upside amounts.

Around 70 of these results possess a great deal more depth than the remainder. They show that likely SROIs for these better-than-average charities range from 0 to 20 with potential upsides of up to 50. This is significant given evidence indicates that most Canadian charities have SROIs in the range of 0 to 2 with an average upside of 4.

Ci & SMI results come from systematically using standard program evaluation methods and emphasize consistency of SROIs across all charities. We have used around 100 external studies as sources for values of outcomes and baseline and program success rates across a wide variety of different sectors and interventions. In addition, we can replicate the results of around 5 external SROI studies completed by other analysts. Main drivers for SROI results are presented and several charities and charity evaluation experts have provided open letters stating that SMI estimates and ranges are reasonable, comparable and congruent with other evaluations. In addition, several financial market experts have stated that SMI estimates are similar in quality to information regularly used in financial markets.

Our SROI magnitudes make sense for the right reasons. Rough improvements in quality of life for charity clients can be reasonably estimated with boundary ranges whose widths make sense.

Charity analyses include both solid baseline SROIs and additional possible SROIs whose magnitudes are less certain. Both likely and possible SROI magnitudes and their causes can be explained. Some reasons for SROI results are presented in Table I. SMI work emphasizes the rough size of what is currently known and unknown with varying levels of certainty. Some sources of and reasons for different information uncertainty levels are presented in Table II.


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