Pionero Philanthropy has developed a unique and innovative methodology
for forming partnerships with and evaluating nonprofits
Our Nonprofit Assessment Methodology
At Pionero Philanthropy, we incorporate diverse methods of data collection and analysis to provide a more in-depth and culturally competent look at each partner nonprofit.
Our methodology starts with data collection through a series of online questionnaires, starting with our Preliminary Form. This questionnaire collects basic data on a potential partner and is used to determine eligibility. Once we’ve established that the nonprofit organization is eligible, they are directed to develop their nonprofit profile by creating an account and responding to additional questionnaires.
In-Person Site Visit
After our team has collected all required information through our online questionnaires, we coordinate a site visit to observe the nonprofit in their specific development environment.
This in-person observation allows us to verify the data collected online, including the nonprofit’s location, resources, programming, and staff information. During this visit, Pionero Philanthropy also performs a face-to-face interview to review the submitted data and fill in any information gaps.
*Due to COVID-19, all site visits are currently being conducted virtually.
Review Of Publicly Available Information
As part of our nonprofit evaluation process, Pionero Philanthropy’s Research Department performs an in-depth online review of each organization:
- Website & social media: We review the organization’s website and social media to identify the organizational documents made publicly available by the nonprofit such as Annual Reports, Financial Statements and Board Member information.
- News: We perform an online search for the nonprofit to review recent updates on the organization, look particularly for any news concerning unethical behavior.
- Guatecompras: Guatecompras is the Guatemalan government’s online State Contracting and Procurement Information System. We review this database to identify whether or not the nonprofit has contracts with or received money from the Guatemalan Government.
- Local community data & statistics: We compare the organization’s programming with local indicators of the community where it is located. This information helps us better understand the work each nonprofit is doing and how it relates to the communities they serve.
The 5 Pillar Evaluation
Once we’ve collected all necessary organizational data on a partner nonprofit from our questionnaires, site visit, and online research, we perform our 5 Pillar Evaluation.
The 5 Pillar Evaluation is based on 50 academically supported best practices in the five key pillars of nonprofit management: Sustainability, Transparency, Impact, Relevance, and Efficiency. This evaluation process is required for a nonprofit to receive and maintain partnership status with Pionero Philanthropy.
The 5 Pillar Evaluation utilizes a scoring system to evaluate how our nonprofit partners are performing. Each of the five pillars includes 10 best practices within the field of nonprofit management. Each practice is worth two points, resulting in an individual pillar score out of 20 and a total evaluation score out of 100.
The findings and results from the evaluation are used to assist our partner nonprofits in improving their management practices, not for comparison purposes or shaming an organization.
We define sustainability as a nonprofit’s ability to keep their function, survive, and accomplish its mission in the long term. This pillar is composed of the following best practices:
- Coordination with government systems
- Cultural awareness/Competency
- Annual strategic plan
- 3-5 year strategic plan
- A succession plan
- Clear mission and vision
- Diverse board composition
- Local leadership
- Women in leadership
- Youth in leadership
We define efficiency as a measure of how a nonprofit’s inputs of economic resources such as funds, expertise, time, and equipment are converted into results. Pionero Philanthropy has broadened the traditional analysis of efficiency in order to better gauge financial health. This pillar is composed of the following best practices:
- All financial numbers reported and maintained up-to-date
- Average, or better than average, liquidity ratios
- Average, or better than average, funding ratios
- Average, or better than average, operating ratios
- Average, or better than average, financial health ratios
- High Social Return on Investment/ Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Cost-effectiveness analysis
- Performs internal ratios and analyses
- No signs of financial fraud or corruptions
- Generates positive revenue to further their mission
Transparency is defined as a nonprofit’s honesty and openness when it comes to the organization’s administration and finances. Pionero Philanthropy believes that transparency requires accurate, complete, and timely information in order to maintain credibility and eliminate the probability of fraud or corruption. This pillar is composed of the following best practices:
- Publicly available 990 Tax Form online (if US nonprofit)
- Publicly available Annual Reports online
- Publicly available Financial Statements online
- Publicly available Board Members online
- Publicly available proof of 501(c)3 nonprofit & EIN/Guatemalan registered status online
- Publicly available Conflict of Interest Policy online
- Publicly available Whistleblower Policy online
- Publicly available internal/external audit online
- Disclosure, willingness to provide any additional information to stakeholder upon request
Relevance is defined by Pionero Philanthropy as a nonprofit’s ability to align its mission and programming with what is needed, what matters, and what is deemed as important in Guatemalan communities. This pillar is composed of the following best practices:
- Community baseline statistics
- Community diagnostic
- Adherence to national, departmental, or municipal development plans
- Community engagement, interest, and involvement
- Need Not Fulfilled by Public or Private Sector
- Collaboration with Other Institutions or Organizations
- Adaptable programming
- Mutual benefit
- Physical presence in community
- A “work yourself out of a job” mentality/ Nonprofit dissolution
Pionero Philanthropy defines impact as a nonprofit’s influence on positive change within the Guatemalan context. This pillar is composed of the following best practices:
- Development of a Theory of Change or Logic Mode
- Monitoring and evaluation of output indicators
- Monitoring and evaluation of outcome indicators
- Participant feedback/accounts of change
- Benchmarks and comparisons
- Nonprofit Accountability with Stakeholders
- Contributes to public knowledge on nonprofit theme
- Volunteer/ donor retention
- Historical data collection
- Long term benefits
Visualization Of Nonprofit Partner Data
Once the 5 Pillar Evaluation is completed for a partner, partial data is publicly displayed on Pionero Philanthropy’s Interactive Map. Comprehensive data on each partner nonprofit is available in our Nonprofit Database, accessible with a monthly or annual membership or by a one-time purchase of that organization’s partner nonprofit report.
Partner Nonprofit Reports
The data collected from our questionnaires, observations and interviews, online searches, and 5 Pillar Evaluation for each organization is compiled into a reader-friendly Partner Nonprofit Report. These reports are given to potential donors through our online database and consultancy services. Donors will be able to learn about each partner nonprofit, its mission, vision, programming, evaluation scores, and funding needs, enabling them to make informed decisions and build lasting relationships.
Guatemalan Nonprofit Database & Map
We have developed a complete database of the nonprofit environment in Guatemala with information about each nonprofit in the country – including our partner nonprofits. This includes data on the organization’s locations, themes, registration status, budget, size, year founded, partner status, religious affiliation, and funding from the Guatemalan government, as well as additional information for our partner nonprofits.
Partner Seal & Seals Of Excellence
Once Pionero Philanthropy has completed our 5 Pillar Evaluation and determined a final score for our partner nonprofit, we awards Seals of Excellence based on our findings. These seals are not used for comparison, but rather to motivate the partner nonprofit to improve and reward them as they reach their goals.
Pionero Philanthropy Partner Seal
Any organization that meets all parameters and becomes our nonprofit partner, automatically receives a Pionero Partner Seal. By completing our partnership process, Pionero Philanthropy feels confident in representing the nonprofit and promoting them to donors. The Pionero Partner Seal signifies a truly noteworthy nonprofit.
Bronze Seal of Excellence
Any nonprofit organization that receives a Pionero Partner Seal and a 5 Pillar Evaluation score of 70-79 points is awarded the Pionero Philanthropy Bronze Seal of Excellence. These nonprofits are on the right track. They are familiar with best practices of nonprofit management and are working towards excellence!
Silver Seal of Excellence
Any nonprofit organization that receives a Pionero Partner Seal and a 5 Pillar Evaluation score of 80-89 points is awarded Pionero Philanthropy’s Silver Seal of Excellence. These nonprofits are making strides to perform the best practices in each of Pionero Philanthropy’s 5 pillars. They have high management capabilities.
Gold Seal of Excellence
Any nonprofit organization that receives a Pionero Partner Seal and a 5 Pillar Evaluation score of 90-100 points is awarded Pionero Philanthropy’s Gold Seal of Excellence. These organizations are truly exceptional and have made great strides to properly manage their nonprofits. They are close to meeting or have met all of the best practices recommended for the nonprofit sector and are true champions of nonprofit management.
Philosophy Of Nonprofit Evaluation
There are certain things that Pionero Philanthropy wants our partner nonprofits to be absolutely sure of. In order to follow the nonprofit value of doing no harm, we have created a philosophy surrounding our 5 Pillar Evaluation system and score.
Pionero Philanthropy does not use the 5 Pillar Evaluation score to compare partner nonprofit organizations to one another. Pionero Philanthropy understands that nonprofit organizations exist at many different levels of nonprofit management capability and that this is very dependent on a number of circumstances.
We do not expect partners to have an immediate score of 100, in fact we expect very few nonprofits to receive a Seal of Excellence at the beginning of our evaluation. Pionero Philanthropy itself does not have a perfect score at this point in time. This is not a tool to compare organizations to one another but to assist in nonprofit management improvements. Organizations with higher ranks will not be treated differently than those without a Seal of Excellence.
Pionero Philanthropy does not judge partner organizations based on their 5 Pillar Evaluation score. Pionero Philanthropy is proud of every partner nonprofit and feels they are truly noteworthy organizations, as represented by their Partner Seals.
This evaluation system is not created to condone those who do not receive a Seal of Excellence, nor to only recommend donor relationships with nonprofits with a Seal of Excellence. We believe the ranking of Seals will allow donors to see the nonprofit management capabilities that exist in Guatemala and allow donors to assist in capacity building of nonprofits which we promote.
Pionero Philanthropy will re-evaluate partners on a continual basis. Upon receiving their first evaluation and familiarizing themselves with the definitions of the pillars, we expect nonprofits to adapt many new practices which will result in the improvement of future evaluation scores. This encourages nonprofits to improve through the performance of academically supported best practices.
Public Comment From Partner Nonprofits
Pionero Philanthropy wants to provide the opportunity for each partner nonprofit to comment on their 5 Pillar Evaluation score. This comment will be left unedited allowing partners to provide opinions on the scoring system, insights into their individual scores, hopes for the future improvement of their scores, etc.