Professor: improve China’s NGO evaluation system

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Professor Zhu Zhaonan from Beijing Qiyue Philanthropy Service Center recently gave a speech at an event hosted by Nonprofit-Evaluation.

Zhu said that NGOs, or non-profit organizations, have experienced a period of great development worldwide including in mainland China in the past few decades, and are playing an increasingly important role in social development and innovation.

She pointed out that public trust in NGOs has been declining in recent years, especially following repeated scandals — and there are growing voices in society calling for greater oversight and accountability.

At the same time in the private sector, a well-developed business evaluation system is used to quantify companies’ performance in many aspects.

However, the performance of NGOs is usually highly subjective and uncertain, making it difficult to quantify. It cannot be monetized or digitized like the performance of a business organization, which can be assessed on the basis of changes in profit margins or stock market value.

To solve this problem, NGO practitioners and academics have been researching evaluation systems that conform to the characteristics of NGOs.

In China, through years of practice and exploration, a set of evaluation theories and methods have been gradually explored, and are constantly developing.

A new problem is that, the evaluation model born in China, is significantly different from the more advanced and complete international theories that have been formed in the West. Due to the use of different discourse systems, the two sides face difficulties in communicating.

Zhu emphasized that it is necessary for the Chinese to learn and understand the Western evaluation theories and their development history, and to seek methods for integrating China’s domestic evaluation practice with the international mainstream academic system.