21. Evaluating NGOs – What’s hard? What’s surprising?
“I learned that it is hard to find trustworthy websites. For example, I went to a website that was linked as a non-profit, but it had no evidence on the site that it was actually a non-profit website.” Journal from “Erik”
They are getting more sophisticated about evaluating NGOs, asking interesting questions. I started the discussion with “What is hard about evaluating your NGO? And/or What surprises did you have?”
They find it difficult to track the spending. (They can use www.charitynavigator.org and www.idealist.org or even look at the annual reports which is what grantors will do.) A boy was surprised to find out how agressivley activist Greenpeace is and was disappointed to find that the majority of board members were teachers and only two with PhDs. “What would you have liked to see?” “Could teachers also have a very valid role in this organization?” Tried not to feel personally insulted with his “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” underlying message – a real hot button for me.
One of the ocean NGOs had no news from a Google news search and their board was mostly unqualified volunteers. Emma (not her real name) said ‘I couldn’t see what they were actually DOING, they were just raising awareness and I don’t see how that helps anything.’
Several said it was hard to find the science behind the NGO actions. I agree with that one. Would like to see it much more up front on NGO websites. And what they will measure to see if they have actually made a difference! I don’t mean to sound mean, but seriously, the scientific method is a really efficient way to solve problems that NGOs want to see fixed.
Anne, some questions for the world of NGOs: What is the difference between a ‘top down’ and ‘grass roots’? Kids are confused about global, huge organizations like The Heifer Project. Please could you also comment on the pros and cons of celebrity involvement, and maybe on why the science behind the action is not more emphasized on NGO websites?
The Power of Circulating and Listening
Yeah. Need to get off the computer, wander around class giving positive quedos as well as gentle re-directing. Oh, and talking LESS, listening MORE. Only 26 years in, still time to improve!
We give “A Few Qs” every week to 10 days, to keep ’em honest and accountable. Questions are based on the lesson objectives and activities since the last quiz. I do open-ended, short answer q.s instead of multiple choice these days. I get a little more insight into their thinking that way. That is a better format for special ed students as it doesn’t require as much reading comprehension and they are not distracted by the distractor answers. And, surprisingly, they are pretty quick to grade. I go through question by question to make it as fair and fast as possible and get them back by the next day. Go over. Redos for up to a “B” the next day at lunch. Takes some pressure off and allows for some re-teaching and quick course adjustment.
“How are you feeling about starting your Take Action Project?” – quotes from today’s quiz:
“I am starting to feel that my Take Action topic is eaven more important than I thought at first.”
“I think it will be fun but a little stressful because so much work is put into it.”
“I’m still unsure exactly how I’m going to raise money.”
“I am feeling good about it. I like how we are going to take action and I think we have found a good NGO.”
“Pretty good! I’m looking forward to raising money by making friendship bracelets.”
“I am feeling happy because now I will be able to help the world with everyone else.”
That last one says it for me.
Overall, it’s looking like they are fairly calm and that all the background research while not always kick *#$$% exciting, has given them a level of confidence that they are doing something ‘serious’ and useful.