Monday, May 23, 2016

Celebrity Stardom Nose Its Place in the World of Giving

Through recent memory, it's been clear to see how important of a role social media and celebrity support can play in the awareness of an initiative, program, or movement. For example, the Ice Bucket Challenge became such a phenomenon in 2014, that millions of people around the world dumped buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After the social media phenomenon went viral, the #IceBucketChallenge proceeded to raise $5.5 million in comparison to $32,000 the year prior, when the awareness of the disease was little to none by the average person. Celebrities from all over the world participated in this challenge, from Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, to Oprah Winfrey, and even Bill Gates.

The power of celebrity involvement and endorsement has served similar benefits leading up to the United States’ Second Annual Red Nose Day. Put together by Comic Relief Inc, a once solely British Charity, Red Nose Day has raised over $1 billion in its previous 25 years fighting to end poverty. The first U.S based Red Nose Day, last year, raised over $23 million. The Red Nose Day campaign is designed to pair elements of fun and laughter with the overall mission of lifting children and families out of poverty. The 2016 FUN-raising campaign was kicked off by the red noses going on sale at Walgreens’ nationwide earlier this year. Red Nose Day features a plethora of fundraising activities and ideas that can be found on their website.

This campaign is culminated in one day, Thursday, May 26th, by way of a live 2 hour NBC broadcast at 9pm Eastern, hosted by Craig Ferguson. The primetime television special will feature stand-up performances, music performances, sketch comedy, and short films. Celebrities scheduled to make appearances throughout the broadcast include: Ellen DeGeneres, Liam Neeson, Seth Rogan, Ludacris, Ron Funches, Blake Griffin, Key & Peele, Jack Black and many more.

Arguably the most known initiative for Red Nose Day, has been M&M’s #MakeMLaugh Challenge, which features selfies posted of the subject wearing a red nose. For every selfie posted with the hashtag #MakeMLaugh, M&M’s donates a dollar towards the Red Nose Day fund. Celebrities such as actress Miranda Cosgrove, Nascar driver Kyle Busch, and longtime TV show host, Jerry Springer, have all posted selfies with the red nose in support of the movement.

NBC serves as Red Nose Day’s official broadcast partner, while Walgreens and M&M’s are both set as their media sponsors. With the help of these major companies and the increasing support from hundreds of global celebrities, Comic Relief Inc is on track to producing another extremely successful and lucrative Red Nose Day that will help save the lives of impoverished children in the United States, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

If you are interested in donating to the mission to help end poverty, you can donate to one of our 3 or 4 star rated charities that are partners of Red Nose Day. These charities include: The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, charity: water, Covenant House, Feeding America, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, Oxfam America, and Save The Children.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

0-Star Charity the Focus of a CNN Investigative Report

In this report, CNN's David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin investigate the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation. Among the red flags that stand out about this 'charity' are the following:
  • It has consistently rated 0-stars in Charity Navigator's rating system.
  • The organization spends only about 10% of its budget annually on its charitable mission.
  • A number of important items under our Accountability & Transparency rating metrics are missing including:
  • Of the $8.6 million in gross receipts collected by the professional fundraisers hired by the organization, only $900,000 made it back to the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation. That's just 10.5%! This should serve as another clear reminder to donors that they should never give over the phone as these for-profit telemarketing firms often keep a substantial part of your donation.
  • A total of at least $16,000 was given to the President's brother, William H. Burch as 'emergency assistance.' It wasn't reported as a loan and there is no indication that William is required to repay it.
If you are passionate about helping veterans, then you should know there are plenty of charities worthy of your support. Simply go to our website to access a list of charities that support veterans and active duty servicemembers - all of which have been vetted by our team of expert analysts. You can feel good about supporting any of the charities we rate highly.

Update: On May 17, 2016, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald asking for the resignation of J. Thomas Burch, the Deputy Director in the Office of the General Counsel at the VA, head of the 0-star National Vietnam Veterans Foundation (NVVF). 

A Celebration of Diversity

May 17th, The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, is a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities. The date was chosen in honor of the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental health disorder in 1990. The dialogue surrounding LGBTQ rights often involves celebrities, like Caitlyn Jenner, Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, and Laverne Cox. Celebrities are able to do great work by using their unique positions to raise awareness about the struggles faced by these communities. Once you’re aware of these issues, you may want to help! Charity Navigator’s got you covered! Check out some of our 4-star charities providing services to and advocating for the LGBTQ community!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thinking About Volunteering this Summer?

Summer is right around the corner and many people, especially high school and college students, are searching for work experiences to build their professional profiles. The opportunities out there range from paid jobs and internships, to unpaid internships and volunteer positions. Many charities report that they use volunteers. They have become the backbone of the philanthropic community as they help many under-funded and under-staffed charities carry out their programmatic work and advance their missions.

About how valuable is the time we donate to charities? Although it can be hard to quantify the value of donated time, the Independent Sector has recently released its 2015 estimate of the value of one hour donated to charity. The value increased 49 cents from $23.07 in 2014 to an average of $23.56. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 62.8 million Americans (25.3 percent of the adult population) volunteered in 2014 providing 7.9 billion hours of service valued at $184 billion. The average number of hours Americans volunteered per capita was 32.1.

As you think about donating your time to charity this summer, do your research and check out our Guide To Volunteering for tips on how to make the most of your experience.



Monday, May 9, 2016

Go Gray for May!

It’s May and it is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Some may be wondering, what exactly is a brain tumor? It is an abnormal growth
 of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function. Brain tumors can have several different symptoms according to the type and location. It is estimated that over 600,000 Americans are living with some type of tumor diagnosis. Sadly, coping with this terrible disease can leave you wondering, what’s next? Seeking treatment, relying on family members or a caregiver, and handling financial hardships are all common concerns associated with this life altering diagnosis.  

If you are looking to help those affected by a Brain Tumor, check out the following highly rated organizations that are doing their best to help fight the disease, support patients and advocate on behalf of all those suffering:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Give Happiness This Mother's Day!

With Mother's Day just around the corner (May 8th), are you still looking for a meaningful gift for mom? It’s hard to think of a more thoughtful gift than making a charitable donation in her honor! And when you make that donation via Charity Navigator's Giving Basket, we will send your mom an email informing her that you made a gift in her name. (You can even wait until the morning of mother's day to make that donation and we'll make sure she's notified before the end of the day.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's Not Our Money

Photo Credit: Direct Relief
One of the key challenges facing charities responding to a disaster is how to handle donor-designated money. Direct Relief, a 4-star charity, eloquently describes their stance on donor designations, and the obligation entrusted to them by donors during a crisis. Please see our feature article on how Direct Relief and other organizations have responded to the tragic earthquake in Nepal one year ago.

Several years ago, following another emergency in which Direct Relief became the focal point for significant charitable contributions, the amount of restricted-by-donor cash contributions for that event exceeded our entire planned operating budget for the year. When I mentioned this had happened to our then board chair who was onsite handling phone calls, she said, “Well, this isn’t our money. The people calling are giving money to Direct Relief, but it’s for the people they’re seeing on TV living through hell.” Simply said, and exactly right – then, and in every similar event that inspires private giving to help the people or country that experiences a disaster. The Asian tsunami. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The earthquakes in Haiti, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The recent cyclone in Fiji, and current flooding in Houston and earthquake recovery ongoing in Ecuador. And Nepal.

For Direct Relief and all American nonprofits, “honoring donor intent” has long been a bedrock principle – but we recognize it’s difficult to assess adherence to, since the only standardized basis of comparison is a single, lengthy IRS form that all groups submit annually and requires groups like Charity Navigator to interpret and make the contents understandable for the public. It’s impossible to honor donor intent without giving donors the opportunity to express that intent. That’s why seemingly little things, like the specific language on website donation pages and in solicitations are so important – particularly in high-profile, deeply compelling emergencies such as occurred in Nepal after last year’s tragic earthquakes.

But, the anniversary of the Nepal tragedy also reminded us of the special obligation that Direct Relief has to the people of Nepal, having been entrusted with funds directed to our organization for their benefit. It seems an important – maybe the most important – obligation, and we hope we get it right, even though it’s different from the legal requirements and norms so obviously essential to inform those who made generous contributions that allowed Direct Relief to assist as it has and will continue to do.

-Thomas Tighe, President and CEO, Direct Relief

To read the full piece by Mr. Tighe, please click here.