On 30 October 2015 AVPN and National Volunteer and Philanthropy Center (NVPC) hosted an expert roundtable on assessing non-profit quality titled “What does ‘good’ look like?” This invitation-only roundtable featured a presentation by Emily Perkin, Founder of Just Cause, followed up by a Q&A amongst well-known figures in the Singaporean social sector.

s7Emily founded Just Cause in early 2015 to promote excellence in the non-profit sector. Her aim is to produce a freely accessible website providing strategic research and impact assessment support to non-profits and robust charity recommendations to donors, thereby, bridging the information gap between non-profits and donors who want to give effectively but don’t know how. Her presentation at the day’s event shared Just Cause’s experience in piloting its “Excellence Framework”.

The “Excellence Framework” is designed to support Just Cause’s mission of promoting non-profit excellence by providing three main services for donors and non-profits: research, impact investment and practical support. These services help us answer pending questions such as: how are we assessing non-profit quality in Singapore? What qualities should we look for? How do we control the costs of the assessment process? What does “good” look like?

Emily emphasized the lack of transparency and communication-the information gap- between the non-profit and private sector. This is a primary obstacle Just Cause aims to overcome so that non-profits can one day operate on the same level as the best of the private sector.

Audience members continued to point out other potential hurdles during the Q&A session. Ming Tan, Director of COMO Foundation questioned Just Cause’s future scaling model. Ming asked how Emily planned on scaling the business when the time came and how this model would adapt to other countries. Emily was quick to note the difficulty involved with scaling and explained that more trials would have to take place first in order to substantiate the value of the project. Scaling prospects would then commence.

Christy Davies, Public Engagement Director of World Vision International, continued the discussion with an examination of the direction and target market of Just Cause. Christy, who has years of experience in the field, noted that having a clear vision was key to success. Emily agreed and explained that her target market was people looking to invest, but unsure of where to put their money. By working with more NGO’s in the coming year, she hopes to identify what works best for different types of organizations in the region, thereby, allowing her to refine the organizations goals.

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