Right now in Australia it’s tough being a disability charity. The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has meant huge disruptions to the way disability charities are funded and how they operate.* This article, however, isn’t an essay on the NDIS or it’s effect on disability support providers. Plenty has already been written on the topic, so if you’re interested, you can read more here.
This is a review that details which disability charities are worth supporting. Who demonstrates that they will use your donation to further improve the lives of those with disabilities, beyond what is provided by the government?
The Good Cause Co. have evaluated six of Australia’s largest disability charities to help answer this question:
Who are the best?
There is one charity on our list, Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), who stands out and achieves our ‘Donate with Confidence’ recommendation. Aspect clearly demonstrate that they are trustworthy and effective at meeting the needs of people on the spectrum and their families. We believe donations to Aspect will be used carefully and strategically to achieve their mission.
The remainder of charities we assessed achieve our ‘Donate’ recommendation, which means they are probably trustworthy and effective, but need to provide more information before we can recommend them with confidence.
What’s so good about Aspect?
Aspect does what we think all charities should do. They make it really easy for us to understand how they are run, and they provide strong evidence that proves their beneficiaries are truly benefiting from the service.
How do they do this?
- They evaluate their programs and also undertake research to discover which kinds of service delivery models are best for their beneficiaries. They share the results of their program evaluations for others to learn from.
- They present a comprehensive strategy with clear goals. They highlight how they monitor performance and present their results.
- There is no ambiguity in the oversight or management of the organisation. They describe who is in charge and what their responsibilities are.
What’s missing from the others?
The other charities that we evaluated had some, but not all of these elements. The features that were generally missing were:
- Evidence that they evaluate their services – We want charities to demonstrate that they listen to their beneficiaries and that they respond to feedback to improve the quality of their programs and services. Neither Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Guide Dogs Australia, Vision Australia, Endeavour, nor Yooralla show how they evaluate their quality of their services.
- Strategic direction – We want to know in which direction the charity is heading. This is particularly important in the disability sector where service providers must change their business model in order to maintain relevance within the new NDIS environment. Endeavour Foundation and Yooralla present an overview of their strategic goals, but there isn’t enough detail to understand how the strategy will be used to guide the organisation. Guide Dogs Australia do not present a strategy at all.
- Description of how they monitor performance – A strategy is useful when it can be used to track performance. A good charity will have clear strategic targets and will monitor their progress towards them. Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Guide Dogs Australia, and Yooralla are not clear about how they are tracking the performance of their organisations, if at all.
The Good Cause Co.’s “Should I Give To…” provides independent evaluations of Australia’s largest charities. We will be publishing over 50 critical reviews of charities that are seeking your donation. It’s time to find out which Australian charities are the star performers!
*Under the NDIS, rather than the government paying the charity to provide disability services (as was traditionally the case), the government now directly pays the beneficiaries, who then engage with charity (or other disability support providers) themselves.