Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Trump Foundation Raises $6 million for Veterans

In lieu of attending the latest GOP debate, Donald Trump held his own event, which was aimed at raising money for veterans through the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The event rose over $6 million, which will be distributed to 22 different veterans groups. Some are questioning the legality of the fundraiser, but that’s not the focus of this blog. Rather, we want to take a closer look at the charities receiving the funds in case you wish to know if these are charities worthy of your trust and support.

Of the 22 veterans groups receiving some part of the donations raised, 6 are currently rated by us. Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing to military families near where their loved one is receiving treatment, has received 12 consecutive 4 star ratings! Disabled American Veterans Charitable Trust, which supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs that provide direct service to veterans, is a 4 star organization. Homes for Our Troops, a 4 star organization, builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Hope for the Warriors, which has received five consecutive 4 star ratings, provides support programs for veterans and their families. Operation Homefront, another 4 star organization, provides emergency financial assistance to the families of our veterans. The Navy SEAL Foundation, which has received five consecutive four star ratings, provides support, health and welfare programs to Navy SEAL veterans.

Looking to Support Veterans and Active Duty Service members? Click here

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Children of the Syrian Crisis

As the Syrian crisis continues, UNICEF has provided a new devastating statistic. In the constant fight to escape Syria, the Middle East and parts of Africa, more than one third of these migrants are now children. Many people do not understand the magnitude of how dangerous the attempt to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece really is. Of the enormous amounts of drownings, one in five people are a child. With treacherous conditions in the water, severe weather and un-sturdy rubber boats, it is no shock that these journeys have been nothing short of horrifying.

In 2015, it is said that more than one million migrants have entered Europe. UNICEF has called on the international community to make every effort to protect women and children migrants who make it to land. Sadly, the majority of children who do make it to land are unaccompanied by an adult. Once off the boat, the journey doesn’t end there. Many migrants will now be looking at a 40 mile walk, on average, to register with the country. In the first few weeks of this new year alone, it is estimated that 55,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean. Of the 55,000, 366 have been reported dead or missing.

In the wake of this international tragedy, many people are looking to help those in need. Some have gone as far as to greet those making it to land with food, fresh water and something as simple as a smile. If you or someone you know is looking to help with the Syrian crisis, Charity Navigator has provided a list of several 4 and 3 star charities aiding in relief efforts.

Annual Report on Charitable Solicitations in Colorado for the Year 2015

Secretary of State Wayne Williams of Colorado recently released a report on Charitable Solicitations in his state. The 28 page report provides an overview of what his role is in the regulation of charities and their fundraising behavior. It also outlines best practices and tips for both charities and donors. 

The data in this report speaks to the progress made due to Colorado’s effort to better their philanthropic sector. Approximately $79.7 billion dollars were donated to Colorado’s charities in 2015. Overall, these charities are growing at a rate of about 7% over the past three years and they allocate, on average, 84% of their spending to programs. Of the 12,794 charities registered in Colorado, only 2% use paid solicitors. This number being so low is excellent because we often see inefficiencies in the way these outside firms fundraise. 81% of net proceeds made through paid solicitors went to the charity, however, when you remove two high-dollar campaigns, the overall percent to the charity drops to only 37.9%!

Charity Navigator was recommended as one of the premier sources of Industry Standards for Accountability and Transparency. Referring to us, the report reads, “The site is a valuable source of data on charities and includes detailed discussions about how to rate charities and measure their impact.”

Currently, over 70 of Coloradan charities we rate have earned a 4 star rating. From the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, to the First Nations Development Institute, to Water for People, many of Colorado’s charities are financially healthy and transparent with their constituents!
Want to see all of Colorado’s four star organizations? Click here!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Find Charities that Support our Troops!

Many Americans wish to support our veterans by donating to a charity serving them. With so many charities engaged in serving veterans, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to find an organization you can trust to spend your money wisely.

To make this task easier for you, we’ve curated a list of charities that support soldiers and their families. These organizations provide various services, from financial assistance, to housing, to lifting troops’ morale.  Before donating to one of these charities, be sure to check on the organizations financial health and transparency practices!

View our list of military and veteran’s charities here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Charitable Celebrities: Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio received a Crystal award at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland for his environmental work. DiCaprio used this platform to address global leaders, calling for their immediate attention to the climate crisis. Most remarkable, though, is that DiCaprio announced that his foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, would be donating $15 million to approximately 30 organizations that work to conserve the environment. Many of the charities the foundation will be donating to are rated by us!

 Amazon Watch is a three star charity that works to protect the rain forest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. Conservation International is a four star charity that applies innovations in science, economics, and policy to protect the environment, demonstrating that we can live harmoniously with nature. International Fund for Animal Welfare, a three star charity, saves animals threatened by poachers, hunts, habitat loss, and conflict with people. World Wildlife Fund will also benefit from the announced donation. This three star charity is committed to reversing the degradation of our planet’s natural environment and to a building a future in which human needs are met on harmony with nature.

Philanthropic celebrities are definitely everywhere. Celebrity support helps to increase awareness of various causes and generate more donations and support. If you’re interested in charities working with celebrities, check out our Top 10 List of Celebrity-Related Charities!

The Flint Water Crisis: How can you help?

Since April 2014, the residents of Flint, MI have been immersed in a very serious and frightening crisis. Amid a financial emergency, city officials decided to switch the city's main water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. From the start, this river had been known for its filth. Shortly after the change, residents began noticing a terrible odor, look and smell to their drinking water. It turns out, researchers determined the water to be highly corrosive and dangerous. There have been proven elevated levels of lead in the water. Unfortunately, many children have been affected by the lead tainted water and that exposure has irreversible effects for the long term.

Luckily, there is one major charity that is directly helping to aid the city of Flint during this time of need. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan is now accepting donations that will go directly towards supporting residents of Flint, whether it be with bottled water, water filters or replacement filters. As always, perform your due diligence before donating to any given charity. Here at Charity Navigator, we want donors to be well informed of where to turn to during any time of crisis. We wish the residents of Flint well and can only hope a solution is found as soon as possible.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service


Taking from the page of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The time is always right to do what is right.” Instead of treating today as a day off, treat it as a day on! The MLK Day of Service is a time to work together towards Dr. King’s dream of a stronger, more united America. You can use of our website to find a local charity to volunteer with or donate to today.
If you’re looking for a charity whose work honors Dr. King’s vision, Charity Navigator has you covered. The Southern Center for Human Rights, based in Dr. King’s hometown, works to enforce the civil and human rights of people in the criminal justice system in the South. The Alliance for Children’s Rights is dedicated solely to protecting the rights of impoverished, abused, and neglected children. SOME (So Others Might Eat) helps break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment, and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness. Jobs with Justice works to improve working people's standard of living, fights for job security, and protects workers' right to organize.
The above are just a small sampling of the variety of charities you can engage with to honor Dr. King’s legacy. If you’ve decide to volunteer today, be sure to read through our Guide to Volunteering to help you chose where to dedicate your time!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Talent Lost Too Soon

Sadly, we have lost two incredibly talented men early on in this new year. On January 10, beloved singer, songwriter and complete innovator, David Bowie had lost his eighteen month battle with liver cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by loved ones in his New York City home. At just 22, Bowie landed his first hit song “Space Oddity” that landed in the top five of the U.K. Singles Chart. Throughout the 1970’s-80’s, Bowie became known for pushing creative boundaries in the industry. Just days before his death, he released his final album, Blackstar on his 69th birthday. His music was a gift to us all.

Tragically, we have lost another great talent. On January 14, also at the young age of 69, actor Alan Rickman had died after his long battle with cancer. He was best known for his roles in Harry Potter, Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Although Rickman was infamous for his roles in the Harry Potter films, he was a true man of theatre. He has written his own plays, as well as directed. He too, will be truly missed.

Two tragic losses in such a short amount of time, all due to cancer. If you are thinking about donating to cancer charities on behalf of a loved one or just because you have a passion for wanting to see the disease wiped out, please do your research first. Here at Charity Navigator, you can find multiple four and three star charities working to end the fight against cancer.

IRA Charitable Rollover Is Now Permanent

 [Photo credit: Lending Memo]
Last month, President Obama signed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 into law. Included in this package of changes to tax code is a permanent inclusion of IRS Charitable Rollover. This giving incentive was allowed to expire in 2008, and has since been renewed temporarily five times; it most recently expired on January 1st, 2015, leading to uncertainty for its status in 2016 and beyond.

The IRA Charitable Rollover allows individuals who are 70 1/2 years old to donate up to $100,000 to charitable organizations directly from their IRA, without that donation being counted as taxable income when it is withdrawn. To qualify, contributions must come from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA, and they must be made directly to a public charity. Additionally, the donor may not receive goods or services in exchange for the donation, and they must retain a receipt from each charity to which a donation is made.

Giving incentives such as the IRA Charitable Rollover have a tremendous impact on the social sector. According to Independent Sector, the provision led to more than $140 million in gifts during its first two years.  Because it is available to taxpayers whether or not they itemize their tax returns, the rollover helps older Americans, who are more likely not to file itemized returns. Extending this charitable provision permanently provides needed clarity in the tax code and allows for Americans to make giving decisions without wondering whether the provision will continue to exist.