Welcome to Charity Navigator's Blog!

The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Each day, based on a particular holiday (like Thanksgiving) or current event, Charity Navigator’s experts select 4-5 highly-rated charities to highlight. Subscribe now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hale House Changing Programs

In order to "serve a much larger population of children" Hale House has closed its residential program and is now offering other community services. The organization now provides day care services for children and transitional housing for homeless families and children. The change ends the long run of the orphanage for children founded back in 1969 by Mother Clara Hale which focused on assisting Aids infected and drug addicted babies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Words of Wisdom from a Famous Philanthropist

"It's more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place."
Andrew Carnegie
Born November 25, 1835

He didn’t have access to Charity Navigator to help him give intelligently, but you do. Today, we seek your support so that we can continue to help donors make smart giving decisions in 2009 and for years to come.

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Opinion And An Interview

Check out this weeks blog on Ken's Commentary - Boundless Optimism, No Money. You can also view Ken's interview on the National Fox News Channel on 11-21-08.

Dire Predictions for Charities

We have indicated before that charities are facing a multitude of problems in today’s economic environment. This was backed by a forum on the impact of the crisis on non profits and social service delivery. Decreasing donations and government funding, paired with a simultaneous increase in demand for services are challenging for even the most well positioned organizations. Speakers at the forum are predicting the closing of up to 100,000 organizations, and urge non-profits, who are often very reluctant to merge, to start collaborating on back office support and health care plans. If you feel inclined to help financially healthy organizations weather this storm, you can find a list of charities that have received our highest rating by clicking here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Celebrity-Related Charities

Celebrity involvement in charities is a topic of interest to many people. While some celebs can be proud of their philanthropic efforts, others are not quite so successful. This recent article highlights 10 celebrities and their less than stellar charitable efforts. Three of the charities mentioned are organizations that have been rated poorly by Charity Navigator. With a rating of 2 stars, the The Larry King Cardiac Foundation spends more than 20% of its budget on fundraising. The Magic Johnson Foundation, rated 1 star, spends nearly as much money on administrative support as it does to run its programs. And Dyan Cannon’s Operation Lookout receives our lowest rating, 0 stars, primarily because it spends almost 70% of its budget to raise money, leaving less than 30% to spend on its programs.

You can see a list of 10 Celebrity-Related Charities on Charity Navigator’s website, and see for yourself how varied the results can be where charity and celebrity collide.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Outlook Not So Bleak

One of our 4-star charities, World Vision, just released the results of a survey inquiring about the public’s year-end giving plans. This poll offers some hope for charities that are concerned about their ability to raise funds this holiday season. Specifically, the results indicate that while many Americas are planning to curb their consumer good purchases, they do not plan to decrease their charitable investments. Furthermore, it appears that many Americans are planning to take Charity Navigator’s advice and marry philanthropy and gift giving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A New Charity's Dream - To Earn A 4-Star Rating

Earlier this month, I was a guest lecture at Seton Hall’s Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute’s Financial Management Certificate Program. Participants in the program include executive directors, fundraisers, financial managers, board members as well as individuals considering a career change from the for-profit to the nonprofit sector.

My presentation focused on how charity raters use financial information. The goal was not to transform the participants into Charity Navigator analysts, but rather to help them understand how donors – individuals, foundations and corporations – view their fiscal health. After the class, many of the participants indicated that they planned to return to their office to take another look at their finances from the viewpoint of a funder.

One of those was Luis Ramirez, the founder and president of the brand new charity Global CDH. He started the charity this past year after his daughter – beautiful Isabela – was born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. I admire his energy and his vision! Along with his full-time job and the responsibilities that come with being a new dad of a child with serious health issues, he’s made a major commitment to helping other families cope the diagnosis of CDH. While his charity is both too new and too small to meet our criteria for evaluation, Luis has his eye on the goal of someday becoming a financially efficient, 4-star charity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Help the Victims of the California Wildfires

Wildfires continue to devastate parts of California. Fires over the past week have destroyed over 1,000 homes. As firefighters begin to get the fires under control many residents have lost all and are headed to shelters and to other non-profits for assistance. If you would like to help the victims please consider supporting some of these highly rated charities: The American Red Cross, Direct Relief International, The San Diego Foundation, Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego.

Fundraisers Speak Out

Are you curious to know how the economy is impacting the fundraising efforts of large charities across America? We were. So we posed this and other questions to the executives at several of our 4-star charities.

During the course of the discussion, here’s what some of them had to say:
  • “Just as the economy is forcing a shake-out in the for-profit sector, I believe this climate will push many charities to become lean and efficient. Competition for donors, dollars, and public awareness will lead to more mergers and partnerships -- and that's healthy for all of us.”- Cynthia Allen Smith, chief development officer, Central Florida YMCA
  • "I'd like to encourage individuals to be selective and focused in making their charitable giving decisions... When donors make the choice to write larger checks to a smaller number of organizations, it allows them to be more connected with the organizations they support, and also allows nonprofit organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively." - Amy Robinson, vice president of development at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver
  • “I always encourage supporting a charity through ‘philanthropic shopping.’ I think this is an admirable and important way to support nonprofit organizations while spreading their mission.” - Kimber Leblicq, director of membership and development, Seattle Audubon Society
Visit the roundtable to read all of their candid responses.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Congratulations Outstanding Philanthropists John and Marion Dugan

In celebration of National Philanthropy Day, the regional chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has selected Charity Navigator’s Founders and Board Co-Chairs, John and Marion Dugan, as this year's Outstanding Philanthropists.

The Dugans are some of the Hudson Valley’s greatest philanthropists with a long record of exceptional generosity. They have given millions of dollars not just to us, but to historical societies, colleges, and scholarship organizations.

The board and staff of Charity Navigator applaud their significant philanthropic accomplishments and we thank them for having the vision to create a service to help benevolent citizens make informed giving decisions.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanks for Giving

As we embark on the season of giving, Charity Navigator would like to thank all of our donors--past, present and those yet to join us--for your tangible support of the work we do to help the giving public make wise and informed decisions about which charities are deserving of their hard-earned philanthropic dollars. As one donor puts it, "Your site has been a real boon to us when planning contributions...Thank you for the work you do." Comments like this really underscore our mission, why we are here, and truly invigorate us all. We here at Charity Navigator extend our best wishes to you for the holiday season. Once again, thanks for giving--it means a great deal to us and to all of the deserving charities your generosity supports.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Financial Trouble for Opera Pacific

California-based Opera Pacific recently announced that it was cancelling the remainder of its 2008-2009 season, and anticipates closing its doors completely. The company blames the recent economic crisis and its impact on donations, but the problem might have been avoided if the company had focused more on its long term growth. As our evaluation shows, Opera Pacific’s performance in the area of Organizational Capacity is poor; this indicates that the company is not well positioned to sustain itself over time. This isn’t a new problem for the organization; in each of the last four evaluations we have performed, Opera Pacific has received just one out of four possible stars in the area of Organizational Capacity.

This is just further evidence that donors should give to financially healthy organizations, because those that aren’t healthy might not be around for long. If you’re an opera lover, consider donating to one of these highly-rated opera companies, and help preserve the future of this art form.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today, Veterans Day, is a day that America pauses to honor all military veterans. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day back in 1919. Then in 1954 the word "Armistice" was replaced with Veterans. With America currently in the midst of two wars, now more than ever it is important to stop and think about the service men and women who serve our country. We should also keep in mind the sacrifices their families make. Today is a great day to thank a veteran with either a hand shake, a letter or a financial contribution. If you would like to support a related charity, our home page is currently featuring highly rated charities that assist veterans and their families.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bloggers Unite For Refugees

Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite has teamed up with Refugees United to address the global problem of refugees becoming separated from their families.

Charity Navigator is happy to participate and raise awareness about this cause. We encourage donors to learn more about and support highly-rated charities working to help refugees.

Charity Search API

We recently created a Charity Search API that let's you access our database of charities in your favorite programming language. This means you can now access Charity Navigator's search from other sites, applications, and environments. To get started, all you need is an Application ID. Learn more about the search API.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Charity News Roundup

In case you missed them, here are some recent stories in the news about charities. Not surprisingly, the stories this week center on politics, the economy, and the upcoming holiday season.

Movember Is Here

Yes, it is Movember! The month of the year when men everywhere grow a "Mo" (moustache) in the name of Men's health. You and your cleanly shaved face can register at the Movember site and raise money for the cause by getting sponsors for your facial hair growth. Then just grow your "Mo" until the end of the month. It is all in the name of charity with the proceeds going to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Who knew you could raise money for charity simply by putting your razor away for a few weeks?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Housing Solutions

It’s no secret that the current economic outlook is bleak. These days it almost seems like nothing can be done to ease the pain stemming from America’s credit crisis; homelessness is on the rise, and it could take years before we see any real effects from the rescue plan that was recently signed into law. But take heart – there are well-run organizations out there doing their part to provide relief for individuals facing foreclosure. These charities give families many options to keep a roof over their heads, ranging from temporary housing services, to counseling, to small business loans. You can get involved by supporting these critical housing services at a time when they are so desperately needed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Famous Plumber Plans Charity

Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA Joe the Plumber, says his future plans include creating a new charity. With nearly 1 million charities in America, we’re not sure that we need more, but we wish him well.

Michael Crichton Loses Battle With Cancer

Best selling author Michael Crichton has passed away from cancer. Crichton is best known for writing "Jurassic Park", "The Andromeda Strain" and for creating the television show "ER." Crichton was born in Chicago in 1942 and graduated Harvard University and Harvard Medical School.

Year-End-Giving Tips

Now that the presidential election is over, it is time to turn our thoughts to the holidays and year-end-giving.

To help you ensure that your holiday donations best reach their intended good causes, we've published a Holiday Giving Guide. It includes a list of giving tips, a video of our president & CEO explaining those tips, and a roundtable discussion with charity leaders. To help you navigate the thousands of charities on our site, we also offer a listing of top and bottom scoring charities for each of the 34 causes of charities that we rate. We’ve even included a holiday giving factoid section that you might find interesting.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Charity Navigator's President & CEO in China

Charity Navigator's president & CEO, Ken Berger, is in Beijing at the 2008 Global Philanthropy Forum. Please visit his blog to view video highlights from his presentation.

Candidates' Hometown Charities

With the election just 24 hours away, we thought it would be a good time to highlight 4-star charities in the candidates’ home states.

Republican Ticket
Presidential Candidate John McCain – Senator from Arizona
VP Candidate Sarah Palin – Governor of Alaska

Democratic Ticket
Presidential Candidate Barack Obama – Senator from Illinois
VP Candidate Joe Biden – Senator from Delaware

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November Update

At Charity Navigator we have historically found that Americans begin to seriously consider their year end charitable giving plans during the months of November and December. With that in mind, we are working hard to bring you more new and updated charity evaluations, giving tips and articles.

Today we published 450 updated ratings, 33 new charity evaluations, more new top 10 lists, articles and hot topics.