How do Giving is Great Ratings work?

Our unique algorithm analyses the digital data available on each charity in order to identify areas of strength as well as those that require further investigation.

Our ratings are split into three broad areas:

  • Finances
  • Governance
  • Support

Our analysis is limited by the quality and quantity of data available. For example, English & Welsh charities with annual income less than £500,000 upload much less information about the breakdown of their income and spending and their balance sheets. Scottish charities do not publish information about their trustees, unless they are also registered companies.

We produce an overall score and use this as the default for delivering search results.

Finances

We look at the trends and volatility of income and spending. If there have been multiple deficits this will be highlighted – it may indicate that financial controls need strengthening. Where possible we also look at the split of income: does the charity mainly rely on voluntary sources or does it also generate trading income? Fundraising costs need watching to give an indication of how much of a donation might help charitable activities. However, the quality of reporting in this area is often poor. We also review reserves management, balance sheet strength and whether there is a large pension deficit.

Governance

Where possible we check for evidence that statutory returns have been made on time, that appropriate policies (e.g. Safeguarding for charities working with children) are in place and that the board is organised in line with best practice in terms of size, diversity and dynamism.

Support

Support from well regarded grant makers and charity endorsers or award wins can be an indicator that a charity is doing impactful work. We use data provided via 360Giving to assist in this regard and we rank the support in terms of recency, size and the degree of scrutiny by the grant maker. We also look at Award wins and endorsements from respected charity evaluators.

Scoring basis

In some cases we apply a negative score (e.g. for a poor filing record, weak financial position or board lacking diversity). There is no standard maximum in each sector because we have varying amounts of data available depending on the size of the charity and where it is registered. We interpret the scores on a colour coded basis:

Top 2% of charities
Next 18%
Middle 60%
81-95%
Bottom 5%

A good, or bad, score should not be regarded as a definitive rating of a charity. The single most important factor is the impact achieved and this will not be directly captured in this analysis. However, poor governance standards, weak financial controls and/or lack of support from major grant makers may indicate potential issues.

The detailed calculations can be viewed here.

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