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Driving toward Donor Confidence


What does Toyota’s sticky gas pedal problems have to do with the nonprofit sector?

The February 6 Washington Post reported that “Toyota’s recall of millions of cars … could also be undermining public confidence in the system of independent ratings and reviews that consumers have come to rely on and that for decades gave Toyota vehicles high marks for reliability and safety.” The article continues:

The consistently strong ratings Toyota vehicles have received over the years from Consumer Reports, and other consumer auto sites have fueled sales and helped the Japanese company surpass General Motors last year as the world’s largest automaker. …

Auto safety experts say consumers might need to adjust their expectations about ratings from private groups because of the limited nature of their testing and the degree to which they rely on government and industry testing that itself is in large part based on trust. And their recommendations are no substitute for proper surveillance by regulators and manufacturers. …

Randy Whitfield, who runs a Crownsville statistical analysis firm, Quality Control System, likens what Consumer Reports does to a small-scale clinical drug trial, which makes it unlikely it will uncover every potential problem that is liable to crop up when the drug is used by millions. “Everything changes when you put something out in the field,” he said. Whitfield’s firm, which has done work for Consumers Union, said a better surveillance system is needed to track problems such as sudden unintended acceleration.

We in the nonprofit sector like to compare ourselves unfavorably to the for-profit world when it comes to reviews and ratings. There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go and much to learn. But it’s good to remember that producing meaningful reviews takes a lot of effort and is always evolving. There is much trial and error. We at GuideStar recognize that our partnership with Great NonProfits still requires improvement and refinement. Each year it will get a little better.

Here’s what we need to recognize: The American public wants reviews and has grown to rely on them in every facet of their lives. We in the nonprofit sector need to respond to that market demand.

Bob.jpgThe preceding is a guest post Bob Ottenhoff,  Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.

Topics: Reviews Washington Post Toyota Nonprofit Sector