This is a topic that surfaces, makes a splash, stumbles back below, and then resurfaces after time passes.
How come there are not easy-to-use, comparable, meaningful metrics for donors and others to use to compare nonprofit organizations? There have been several attempts (Philanthropix), there are some partial successes (DonorEdge, Guidestar reports, Charity Navigator), and there are some good resources on admittedly limited universes (Network for Good, GlobalGiving, GiveWell). I'm aware of at least one other nonprofit rating system in concept development stage (stealth mode).
The California HealthCare Foundation announced today another approach to this practice - a website for comparing California hospitals. According to a story the San Francisco Chronicle, the CalHospitalCompare site rates 200 hospitals on 50 criteria and allows users (patients) to compare along criteria as disparate as geography, type of service, and patient satisfaction.
The question about a nationwide nonprofit rating system is no longer if, but when. Major constituents in this - nonprofit associations, foundations, philanthropic associations, and government funders - should get involved, inform and improve these rating/comparison structures, rather than standing by and complaining about the shortcomings of these first efforts.