Sjir from Founders Pledge talks about impact

As part of the impact interview series, we spoke to Sjir Hoeijmakers, Researcher at Founders Pledge. This British non-profit organization has a straightforward yet innovative mission: help donors give more effectively to charity through research and recommendation.

How would you define impact and its importance for your organization?

I think that impact is a change in the world. It can be anything that turns out to be different through a man-made intervention or a natural event. Positive impact however is more than any type of change, which is what we are interested in at Founders Pledge. Positive impact is a transformation that is aligned with one’s vision of what the world could be, as opposed to its current state.

I think impact is basically anything a charity should be about! For-profit organizations aim at maximizing their profit. Non-profit organizations on the other hand should have impact as their main and most important goal. As such, they should aim at maximizing it.

Impact is basically anything a charity should be about!

At Founders Pledge, we aim at empowering our members to do immense good with their resources. Members are entrepreneurs, shareholders or investors who have pledged a certain percentage of their shareholding values to the charitable sector. By recommending only the most impactful organizations, we also drive the charitable sector towards more attention for impact.

Founders’ Pledge mission in mind, it is natural to see impact as part of the core values guiding our organization. This dedication to impact is our beating heart. On one hand, we focus on recommending charities that have the highest impact to our members in order to help them maximize their own charitable impact. On the other, we are committed to fulfilling our mission in the most impactful way. Indeed, our teams prioritize and assess their actions based on the impact it has on an organization’s level.


Which role does impact play when assessing non-profit organizations?

One of Founders Pledge’s core activities is to conduct research on impact in order to help its members give more effectively to charity through its services. As such, impact is the main criterion when assessing charities’ performance. Our main added value is that we don’t limit our research to mostly known causes like international development or health. We explore any cause that we think has a large potential for making the world a better place, from climate change to education. Doing so, we not only focus on identifying impactful charities, but we also open the discussion to new areas.

Impact is the main criterion when assessing charities’ performance.

We select various cause areas based on their perceived potential for impact, as well as the interests and values expressed by our members. After researching and selecting focus points, we discuss with field experts and identify the most impactful interventions conducted for each cause as well as the charities implementing those interventions. In order to evaluate impact, we look at studies that assess, often through randomized control trial, whether charitable interventions or programs had an impact. In most cases, our benchmark is the high-impact charity GiveDirectly. However, in some specific cases we use other criteria. For climate change for example, we look at the organizations’ cost-effectiveness in removing CO2 from the atmosphere.


How will the attention for impact evolve in the charitable sector?

I think that there is a positive trend. It seems likely that ever more donors will steer on impact, which will force the whole charitable sector to focus on it as well. However, it is hard to say whether this transition will be a matter of months, years or decades. Multiple initiatives already raise awareness about impact and meet the demand of the individual or institutional donors that are concerned with cost-effectiveness. Founders Pledge is of course one of them.

Our organization actually makes quite a dent towards impact as it already channels large funds in that direction. Today, we count about 1,000 members around the globe from all kind of companies. They have pledged $1.5 billion, from which $330 million is already in an account, ready to be deployed to impactful charities. From the latter, $7 million have been donated to non-profits organizations so far.

About the impact series

The increasing attention for impact in the donor landscape is not just another hype. Impact-driven funding is here to stay. If we want to join this ride, we have to understand what impact is all about. Through interviews with donors and NGOs that already acquired substantive expertise on impact, we share valuable insights and findings, as we prepare for our first impact training. Just read on and get inspired!


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