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The Fred Hollows Foundation: its impact

This is a review for donors of the charity The Fred Hollows Foundation (The Foundation). It uses the information they have put on the charity regulator’s website (the ACNC Register) and the information on their own website. (We also sent them a draft of this review – see their response below.)

 

The ACNC has previously – the Fact Sheet is no longer on the site – said that ‘If you are donating to a charity, you may wish to make sure that your donation is creating the greatest impact possible.’[1]They don’t currently explain ‘impact’ on their website, but this is how they explained it in the same publication:

 

Every charity has a mission that is associated with producing a public benefit. As this mission is pursued, the changes produced in individuals and their communities can be referred to as the charity’s ‘impact.’[2]

 

If you are a Christian, then the Bible supports this idea of producing ‘the greatest impact possible’. God requires us to be a good steward of the resources He has provided us (e.g. 1 Corinthians 4:2)[3]. To do this, we need to have discernment (e.g., Proverbs 1:5[4]).

 

Therefore, unless we are giving just to make ourselves feel better, we should have an interest in seeing that the money we are giving is likely to be used not only properly[5] but also with ‘the greatest impact possible’.

 

Everything The Foundation is doing may be being done properly, but unless the money is producing the change in people that The Foundation intends (i.e., an impact), the money would be better used elsewhere. And the same applies if the impact is less than is being achieved by another charity with the same mission.

 

What is the impact that the Foundation wants?

 

Impact – intended

 

The Foundation has adopted its founder’s mission:

 

 

Without explanation, one would expect a charity’s ‘purpose’ to be the same as its ‘mission’. So, it appears that this ‘quality eye health’ should also be affordable:

 

to make sure everyone, whether they’re rich or poor, has access to high quality, affordable eye health.

 

The lack of access to affordable quality eye health is therefore the issue the Foundation is trying to address. And to do something about this issue, the Foundation needs to know its causes. It can then move to selecting one or more of these causes to address, the groups of people to target (e.g., gender, age, location) and the changes it wants to see in those groups, that is, the impact[6].

 

The Foundation’s 2019-2023 Strategy is all about delivering impact. But nowhere does that document define that impact[7].

 

It does, however, say how they will measure it (page 13)[8]:

 

 

There is no explanation of the relationship between the mission (‘access to affordable high quality eye health’, the impact intended, and the chosen measurement method.

 

Impact – achieved

 

 

There is no breakdown of these figures by target group.

 

Value

 

The Foundation does not connect the resources it consumed[9] and this impact, so it is not possible to say whether they operated more or less efficiently than previously, or how they compare to another charity with the same or similar mission.

 

The Foundation’s response

 

An earlier version of this report, with the same information but in a different order, was sent to The Foundation. The Chief Operating Officer, Daryn Deiley, requested that the review not be published, in essence because it only used publicly available information. However, as this is exactly where donors should begin (and maybe, if only a small donation, where they will finish), this request was denied. Nothing more was heard from The Foundation.

 

 

 

  1. There is no reason to expect that this is not still their view.
  2. Again, there is no reason to expect that this is not their current view.
  3. And holds us accountable for their use (Luke 16:1-9).
  4. See also Proverbs 14:15 and Prov 19:2.
  5. The behaviour of its people, its use of money, and how it goes about its business.
  6. This is called a theory of change. If The Foundation has a theory of change it does not disclose it.
  7. Across its website and its Annual Report, The Foundation uses the term ‘impact’ in a variety of ways.
    • The thoughts of ‘patients who had only recently had their sight restored’ in Cambodia.
    • The effect of The Foundation’s research, evaluation and innovation.
      • One of the studies was about improving the measurement of The Foundation’s ‘impact’:

    These are outputs, not impact.

    • The Annual Report has the title ‘Our Global Impact 2019’, but on the next page implicitly defines this impact as ‘global results’:

    • A box on the third page of the Annual Report says that The Foundation’s impact is best highlighted by the stories of the people they helped:

    • On the same page it is implied that the impact that they are looking for is what is described by their ‘purpose’:

    (This would imply that their ‘global results’ (2. above) are the mechanism for getting there.)

  8. Elsewhere, the Foundation describes this as its ‘contribution’: ‘Year-on-year increase in cases of blindness and vision impairment averted and years of sight saved with support from The Foundation’; the first part describes outcomes, not impact.
  9. This is the only information in the Financial Report 2019 [ACNC Register] on how the those resources were consumed:
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