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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Millions Making A Difference


One of the largest natural disasters in recent memory, being the Nepal earthquake, is now approximately a year into its recovery. Thousands were killed and injured, in addition to almost half a million people losing their homes as a result of the series of earthquakes. Overall, about 8 million people were affected by the tragedy that left Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, in turmoil and devastation. Since this time last year, 330 humanitarian agencies have launched 2,200 various programs and services to assist the people of Nepal.

After a tragedy of such magnitude, many people around the world become eager to give a helping hand by donating to charities. However, with so many charities providing relief efforts, a common area of uncertainty becomes “where and how would my money have the most impact?”.

Our goal as America’s leading charity evaluator, has always been to guide intelligent giving in all aspects. Holding true to our mission, when the quake hit last year, we published giving tips and a variety of high-rated charities who provided assistance to Nepal. One of the useful tips that we gave, was to follow up in the upcoming months after the earthquake, for the purpose of seeing how donations were put to use.

For the benefit donors who wanted to know the impact their money had, and charities who wanted to report their results, we produced a report entitled “Nepal Earthquake: One Year Later.” This report consists of responses from 35 charities who have been providing assistance to Nepal over the past year. Some highlighted data from this report are:

  • Donations: These charities reported that they received a total of $230.7 million in donations to support their Nepal earthquake response.
  • Collaborative Efforts: 34 out of 35 charities reported that they collaborated with another charity and/or organization while providing relief in Nepal.
  • Range of philanthropic responses: These charities engaged in a variety of charitable activities in Nepal including reconstruction of homes and schools, building orphanages, providing medical supplies and eyecare, delivering food and water, mental health care, and more.
With the prevalence of programs and services in Nepal, it is easy for some to lose sight of the fact that there is still an immense amount of assistance needed in Nepal to improve their conditions. Of the 35 charities who submitted responses, 28 of them are still accepting donations towards their relief efforts in Nepal.

With this report, we look for donors to have a complete breakdown and understanding of how their funds have been used for Nepal’s recovery up to this point. Check out our report now to learn more about how each charity responded and if they need additional support from donors to continue their work in Nepal.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nepal: Building Stronger Homes And Livelihoods

Photo Credit: Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services is one of the many organizations that responded to the Nepal earthquake disaster one year ago. The following is their report on their response. Please see our One Year Later guide for more information on how Catholic Relief Services and many other charities responded to this catastrophe.

The catastrophic earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, not only claimed thousands of lives, but also toppled more than 500,000 homes and businesses. There is a massive demand—and urgent need—to rebuild.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, it is now one year later and Catholic Relief Services’ work continues, training skilled and unskilled workers in earthquake-resistant construction techniques. Among those we’re helping is Jyam Bahadur Thapa Magar, 55, a seasoned construction worker. He has been building homes in Bungkot, Gorkha district since he was a teenager.

“I learned how to build houses from the elders. I learned by seeing them working,” he says. “I made houses that same way my whole life, until I took a training from CRS.”

What Jyam has learned has changed his approach to building. He is forming walls differently, using stones to strengthen corners and digging deeper and wider foundations that will help the homes be more resilient to future shocks. His favorite part of what he’s learned is seeing the homes he’s built using the new construction methods adding, “It will be strong in any earthquake. That is the most important thing for all houses, including mine.”

-Jennifer Hardy, Regional Information Officer, Asia, for Catholic Relief Services

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day!

It’s Friday and it’s Earth Day! What better way to celebrate than by helping to protect and preserve our beautiful planet. This year, the focus is on planting billions of trees, parting ways with fossil fuels and making cities completely renewable. If you would like to learn more about organizations helping to defend our planet’s well-being, check out the following highly rated charities:

For a complete listing of environmental protection and conservation organizations, check them out here. Happy Earth Day fellow Environmentalists!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Legendary Prince Dies

Today, we've learned that Prince has unexpectedly died at the age of 57. An multi-talented entertainer, Prince was a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and an actor. Moreover, he was a pop culture icon.

As we mourn the loss of such a great performer, consider making a donation to one of the charities he supported as a way to celebrate his life. Two such charities, both with 4-star ratings, are the City of Hope and Elton John AIDS Foundation.