Finding and scoring restoration projects

Published on
July 30, 2023

We’re lined up to the global issue briefs set out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Within those core challenges facing nature, like removing plastic from rivers, restoring coral reefs and reforesting, we’re always looking out to find the world's most effective projects so your donations have the highest chance to make an actual difference.

But how do these project partnerships work exactly? And how do we decide who gets to be on the platform in the first place? We get these questions a lot, in this blog you can read all about it.

Our project approach consists out of 3 components;

  1. Sumthing score: due diligence 
  2. Transactions: clearly scoped contracts 
  3. Proof: result-based way of working

The Sumthing Score: local projects, global impact 

To give structure and accountability to our selection process, we’ve devised a pragmatic framework with help of experts in social- and environmental impact. The framework provides an objective rubric of ‘what good looks’ and contains the key things we look for in projects, namely;

  • Proven track record & credibility - how long has the project been around and have they been shown to drive real results.
  • Effectiveness & methodology - to what extent does the project apply restoration guidelines and best practices to ensure long-term beneficial outcomes for nature.
  • Local community involvement - how does the project deal with and involve local communities and contribute to social justice.
  • Innovativeness & scalability - how well will the projects way of working scale beyond its’ current scope if well-funded.
  • Purpose & accountability - is the project structured in such a way that results for nature are its’ main priority, now and in the future.

Each project is assessed by our independent panel of experts; an ever-growing dreamteam of ecological- and social experts that judge the projects using their expertise  on the various criteria in the scoring framework. We transparently publish the aggregated scores on our platform so you can directly see the strengths and weaknesses of each project. And projects can learn from eachother on how to improve their work further! 

The scoring panel is open to anyone that’s qualified and entitled to an opinion. This way we can crowdsource the due diligence and make sure we find the best projects together! If you want to help us evaluate projects with your expertise or relevant knowledge, reach out to us.

And that’s not all. Because we’re bringing technology into the mix, big-time. Already now we're using historic satellite data for reforestation projects, to turbo-charge the Sumthing score with biomass analyses of previous restoration sites (nerd alert: one really cool thing about satellites is that they allow you to travel back in time until the very moment they reach orbit, read more about that here).

The Sumthing Score strives to bring clarity and comparibility into the restoration space, but it can never be perfect. There's always more work to be done! Next up on our list is a standardized  break-down of how each project spends your donations. We'll also make much more visible who the actual local heroes are that are doing the actual work. And finally, in the not-so-far future we’ll even use the proof shared by the partners to feed directly back into their Sumthing Score!

Clearly scoped contracts & transactions

When projects have a sufficient Sumthing Score, we progress to establish a clear and binding obligation for how the project will work with the donations. This contract describes the impact they’ll be making with each donation, and clearly specifies the proof that they will provide to the donators using the Sumthing platform. Aside from this core transaction, this document contains all the good stuff on prices, minimum- & maximum order quantities, timelines, invoicing processes and other quality requirements. Partners issue invoices based on these agreements and fulfil them accordingly. 

Although there’s a lot to cover, we try to keep things simple and avoid legal jargon where we can. Our ideal situation is that anyone in the organisation should be able to read and understand the agreement, and we’ll always challenge for simplicity!

Results that speak for themselves 

Our platform lets you see the real impact with AI-validated proof shared by the project and third-party evidence like satellite images. Not only does this make donating more engaging, but it also enables us to run a few checks. For example we can use the metadata in a picture to check whether the location and date correspond with the invoiced order, as well as any previously shared permits. Another example, for example in our Reforestation- and Coral restoration projects, is checking all pictures in an implementation for a diversity of species planted. Now that’s what we call the power of visibility! 

Raise Your Voice! 

We strive to have the best projects on the platform, but know that the world is a messy place and nothing is perfect. If you have any concerns or notice something irregular, you can always raise a concern. We will investigate promptly and handle your concern with careful confidentiality.

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