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, December 31, 2009

DONATE NOW To Reduce Your 2009 Tax Bill

If you were planning on making charitable donation to reduce your 2009 tax bill, then you need to do so by the end of the day!

Don't worry, you still have time to go to Charity Navigator’s site and give online by clicking on the ‘Donate Now’ button located on your favorite charity’s ratings page. An added benefit of giving through our site is that you’ll be able to access your 2009 giving history when you are ready to complete your tax return.

And if you are at all unclear about the tax implications of your charitable efforts, then we encourage you to check out our guides on this topic.

Finally, if our evaluations have helped guide your charitable decisions this year, we hope you’ll consider a donation to Charity Navigator. We are a 501 (c)(3) public charity and donations to us are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When Does the Check Have to Be in the Mail?

If you're making your year-end charitable contributions by check, make sure you get them in the mail on or before December 31st. The IRS expects that donations made in this manner are postmarked on or before the last day of the year and deposited very shortly thereafter. Year after year, it never fails that charities receive a significant number of well-intentioned donors' checks dated in December yet postmarked in January and even February. If you want your donation to count for the current tax year, make a New Year's Eve trip to the post office--it's well worth it!

Monday, December 28, 2009

There Is Still Time To Pick A Charity

Are you still looking for a charity to support this year? No problem, check out our list of the highest and lowest rated charites in each of our 34 causes. And if nothing catches your interest there, then use our advanced search tool to look for more charities.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Great Example of Corporate Social Responsibility

IntegraScan, a new corporate sponsor of Charity Navigator, is giving back to the community in a big way through its Safe Kids program. The company noticed that the downturn in the economy had led to a pronounced decrease in the number of organizations serving children and youth that were requesting the necessary and vital background checks of their employees and volunteers. This year, IntegraScan made a commitment to provide $500,000 of monthly free background checks to organizations serving children and youth. That adds up to $6 million annually. Eligible organizations do not have to have 501 (c)(3) status--they simply have to demonstrate that they provide programs and services to this population. Click here to learn more. And thanks, IntegraScan, for your commitment to corporate responsibility!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

Here's a video we created last year about National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month:

Visit our site for a list of related charities.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Giving Facts

Did you know?
  • You must keep a bank record or written communication from a charity including the charity's name, along with the date and amount of your contribution, in order to deduct a cash contribution.
  • A total of 19 billion cards, letters, and packages are delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.
  • For just $1, food banks can provide nine pounds of food and grocery products to Americans facing hunger.
  • Donations to charitable causes in the United States reached an estimated $307 billion in 2008 --- an impressive figure, yet down 5.7% over the prior year.
Visit our site for more holiday inspired factoids.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Isn't Always Better

Followers of Charity Navigator know that we have often noted how easy it is to create a new nonprofit. We've long lamented the fact that the size of the nonprofit sector has ballooned in recent years, yet the amount of money flowing into the sector hasn't kept pace. A recent article in the New York Times by Stephanie Strom details just how dramatic the growth has been and backs up our claim that the IRS hands out nonprofit status like people giving candy to babies.

Here are some highlights from the article:
  • New charities are created every 10-15 minutes.
  • Last year, the IRS approved 99% of applications for charity status.
  • There are 1.1 million charities in America.
  • In the past decade, the number of charities has grown 60%.
The above situation prompted, Rob Reich, associate professor of political science at Stanford, to say the following about the IRS review process, “it just seems utterly implausible that anyone can be doing due diligence in any way that constitutes a serious review of the applicant, let alone keeping an eye on them after they are approved.” And Dean Zerbe, who was previously tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee , said he believes that we need to find a way to encourage those who wish to create new charities to take steps to ensure that their 'new' group isn't going to offer duplicative services.

The moral of this tale for donors is that just because a group is a bona fide nonprofit doesn't mean that it is effective, ethical or efficient. Be sure to do your homework and check out a charity before you give.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pay At The Top Comes Under Scrutiny

This week, President Obama told bank executives that the government will not be happy to see large executive bonuses. Such payouts just don't sit well with so many Americans out of work. Not surprising, the public's concern over pay at the top doesn't end with the for-profit sector. Americans want to know that the charities seeking their support this holiday season, and beyond, are not offering excessive salaries to their CEOs.

Tampa area donors will therefore be thankful to learn of WFLA-TV Mark Douglas' in-depth investigation into the compensation practices at hundreds of local charities. His report includes many quotes from Charity Navigator's president & CEO as well as a searchable database of pay at area charities.

If you are interested in supporting charities not located in the Tampa area, then check out our charity ratings which include information on the top executive's pay. And for more detail on the topic, consult our CEO Compensation Study which can be downloaded from our site for free.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mid-December Update

Our Mid-December update includes new evaluations for over 146 charities, including those for The Hunger Project (4 stars), The Glaucoma Foundation (3 stars), OPERA America(2 stars), USS Constitution Museum (1 star), and Iditarod Trail Committee (zero stars).

As always, our latest Top 10 lists are available to view as well.

If you have not done so already, be sure to sign up for our free, monthly, email newsletters so that you can automatically be notified about our updates.

What Do You Plan To Eat For The Holidays

From latkas, to turkeys, to cookies, to sweet potato pie, food is a key part of the winter holiday festivities. Sadly, there are many Americans that are unable to buy a special holiday meal this year. Thankfully, many charities work hard to provide meals to the less fortunate. On our site, we offer some tips to help you find a charity to support so that people in your community can have a special, hot meal this holiday season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Books About Giving

Charity Navigator is featured in the new book, Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties, written by environmental advocate Libuse Binder. The book is a collection of ideas and resources to help millenials tackle today’s toughest issues. Ten Ways includes information to help twentysomethings make a difference by:

  • Digging into what they love
  • Volunteering in ways big and small
  • Leading an eco-active lifestyle
  • Turning their passion into a vocation
  • Supporting political actions that reflect their values

Another book, SMART GENEROSITY: Everything You Need To Know About Charity, Philanthropy and Giving Wisely, by Renata Rafferty offers practical advice, real-life stories, and extensive recommendations guaranteed to uncomplicate even the largest philanthropic gifts. Ideal for financial planners and charity professionals, the book provides:
  • FIVE steps to defining your philanthropic focus
  • FOUR ways to assess a charity
  • The ONE question to ask before making a gift
  • The TEN warning signs a donor should never ignore

Ken Berger, Charity Navigator’s president & CEO, calls this new book “A rare voice of clarity and wise counsel for donors.”

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah , the Jewish festival of rededication (also known as the festival of lights) starts tonight. It is an 8 day holiday during which each night a candle on the menorah is lit.

The Jewish faith has a strong tradition of Tzedakah- giving to those in need. In fact, Jews are expected to give 10% of their net income to charity. As such, some families will use the time spent together during Hanukkah to select and donate to a charity.

What a wonderful family tradition that really anyone can include in their winter holiday celebrations! Be sure to visit our site for tips on how to make the most of your holiday giving.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

(Guest Blog) Award winning documentary film on Aid in Africa – What are we doing here?

There are hundreds of aid organizations with fancy brochures, emotional marketing campaigns and claims of ending poverty. The trouble is, after somewhere between 500 billion dollars and a few trillion dollars (no one know that exact amount of aid given to Africa), most Africans are poorer than they were before receiving that aid. What happened?

Not being experts, but knowing enough to realize that statistics, studies, and aid organizations tell at best a simplified version of the truth, we decided we needed first-hand experiential knowledge. We traveled from Cairo to Cape Town, across 12 countries and spent six months talking with people, hanging out, sharing a meal, exchanging stories and learning from African people and those who were working on “fighting poverty.” As documentary filmmakers, we naturally filmed everything (around 350 hours) – which was eventually edited down to an 84 min film titled "What are we doing here?"

Aid organizations, celebrity activists (and documentary filmmakers) often present Africa as a place to feel sorry for; a place that is helpless and without our assistance, will be doomed to a horrible existence. We found something different: that Africans’ are far from helpless and that often our good intentions are not only ineffective, but can often be destructive. There are some things we (NGOs, governments and individuals) can do to help, but there are also lots of things we can do that cause problems and don’t help. Check out our trailer and find out how you can see the film at www.whatarewedoinghere.net.

Written by Tim Klein, one of the four directors/producers of “What are we doing here?”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Gift Card, Two Gifts

Still looking for that perfect holiday gift? How about picking up one of the new GiveCards.

With GiveCards the giver selects the donation amount starting at $5. The recipient activates the card and donates the pre-selected amount to a charity of their choosing. The recipient then spends the rest of the card amount anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. The cards can be personalized and arrive within 5 business days after your purchase.

And the best part is that GiveCards has partnered with Charity Navigator so that our data is accessible to guide recipients in selecting a charity. Please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about opportunities to share our data with your site's audience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bryant Gumbel Has Lung Cancer

Sadly, Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO Real Sports and former Today Show anchor, has announced that he's being treated for lung cancer. According to the CDC, more people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer.

Visit our site for a list of charities working to find a cure for and generate awareness about lung cancer.

Since smoking is a major risk factor, you may also want to support a charity, like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids or Action on Smoking and Health , that is working to limit the number of people who smoke.

Saving Philanthropy

As you may know, we are working to expand our rating system to include an assessment of each charity's accountability and programmatic outcomes. The following provocative video, "Saving Philanthropy," makes the case for charities to measure their outcomes and for foundations to fund such analysis. If you want to learn more about this topic, then we suggest you visit Ken Berger's blog where he's been holding discussions on outcome measurement.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Many Requests for Funding Did You Get This Past Year?

One of the donors that uses our site conducted an experiment this past year. From 12/1/08 - 11/30/09, he keep a record of each time a charity sent him an appeal for support. As he says, "results tabulated below show how many mailings we received during the period. The numbers are, eh, impressive.It is incredible how much mail some charities send."

American Diabetes 24
World Vision 18
Special Olympics 14
Smile Train 13
ALS Assn 13
American Fd for the Blind 13
American Lung 11
American Red Cross 11
American Cancer Society 11
ASH 10
Planned Parenthood 10
Nat’l Park Conv. Svc. 9

We know many donors share his frustration with the number of appeals they receive from charities. How about you? How many times a year should a given charity contact you seeking support?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Upcoming Webinar

Becoming a High Performing Organization

State of the Field and a First Look at the Outcomes and Effective Practices Portal

3pm-4:30pm (EST), Thursday December 10, 2009

Mounting interest in identifying and funding high-performing nonprofits has left many social service providers scrambling to improve their performance. But where can organizations go to find the practical resources needed? What are effective practices and how do you measure outcomes? How do you then put these resources into practice to transform your organization into a high-performing nonprofit?

In this webinar, Kristin Moore (Child Trends) will provide an overview of the resources available to youth serving organizations. Anisha Chablani (Roca) will then discuss how Roca has leveraged available research along with knowledge from internal performance data to improve outcomes for the young people they serve. And then, Mary Winkler (Urban Institute) provides a first look at an exciting new web resource called the Outcomes and Effective Practices Portal (OEP) – a joint project with Social Solutions. The OEP aims to become the single, comprehensive resource for nonprofits to access the information and related measurement tools needed to run highly effective programs. Click here to register.

International Charity Rating Groups

We get several emails each week from international donors inquiring about a Charity Navigator like service in their country. And we've been approached by many people around the world who are interested in establishing a rating service. Some have traveled from as far as Asia to meet with us to learn from our experience!

The good news for donors is that there are charity evaluators taking shape in England, Sweden, Israel and Canada. As the philanthropic sector expands around the world, and the demand for the type of data we provide with it, I'm sure so will the number of countries with nonprofit rating services.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Update

Our December update includes new evaluations for over 300 charities, including those for Locks of Love (4 stars), Marine Toys for Tots Foundation (3 stars), Gifts in Kind International (2 stars), The Wilderness Society (1 star), and Hale House (zero stars).

Please also check out the new Top 10 lists.

If you have not done so already, be sure to sign up for our free, monthly, email newsletters so that you can automatically be notified about our updates.

Monday, November 30, 2009

(Guest Blog) Two Parrot takes on River Blindness Film Project in Cameroon, West Africa

Deep in the jungles of western Cameroon the Jimmy Carter Center treats one of the world's most insidious diseases. Two Parrot Production brothers John and Bill Kizorek made their way over hours of single-lane rutted roads, along with members of the Lions Club of Cameroon. They created a short documentary film (now on YouTube) on how the fly breeds, how it bites humans and lays eggs in their bodies. The bites release microfilaria into the bloodstream, some of which make their way to the eyes and cause blindness. Other side-effects are skin ulcers, intense itching, and nodules under the skin.
John Kizorek taping education program in remote Cameroon village

The film shows how an international drug donation program by Merck, using the drug Mectizan, is helping cure this disease. Along the way the Two Parrot videographers taped the flies biting humans and also showed what the Lions Club members are doing to educate the community to eradicate this disease from the country.

Bill Kizorek coming up from fly-infested river bank
Small boy examined for symptoms of river blindness.

According to Bill Kizorek, "this was a little on the scary side. At one point I asked where I could find some of these flies to film, and the guy standing next to me pulled up his pant leg and had SIX of the flies sucking blood from his calf! I was grateful to be wearing ExOfficio pants with Insect Shield to deter similar gnawing on my own skin." -by Bill Kizorek, senior partner,Two Parrot Productions

Why did we invite Bill Kizorek to do another blog entry for Charity Navigator? Because we helped match up Two Parrot with several of the charities who eventually benefited from their grants and many of our blog readers enjoyed their first guest posting.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Black Friday

Instead of standing in line at the mall trying to catch a deal, put your feet up and purchase a Good Card from the comfort of your home. A Good Card is a gift card for charity offered by Charity Navigator through a partnership with Network for Good. You pick the amount to put on the card and the recipient selects a charity (or charities) to receive the donation.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

City Harvest
Island Harvest
Harvest Hope Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest
Forgotten Harvest
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 25, 2009

If You Must Shop On Black Friday

If you plan to take advantage of Black Friday's sales, then charge away with your Charity Navigator Capital One Visa card. This way 1% of your purchases will be donated to Charity Navigator.

Don't have a Charity Navigator Capital One Visa card? Get one now!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What We're Thankful For

As Thanksgiving approaches, we at Charity Navigator are thankful for:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oreos and Charity – Teaching Kids To Be Philanthropists

What could be more daunting than trying to teach the concept of philanthropy to a bunch of 5 year olds? Having to go after the parents that work at Kraft and who had the kids make their own Oreo cookies! This was the conundrum I was up against a few weeks back when my child’s kindergarten teacher extended an invitation for all the parents to come in and talk about our careers. Considering what I was up against, it went great.

First, taking a cue from some lesson plans I found online, I introduced the word philanthropy. We talked about how it means to share your time, talent and treasures for the common good. All the kids got a chance to answer the question “I’m going to be a philanthropist because I’m going to …” They did a great job and had some thoughtful answers.

Next, I read them the book Strega Nona’s Harvest. One of the characters builds a secret garden and anonymously donates the vegetables he grows to Strega Nona. She doesn’t know what to do with all the extra food. When she finds out that everyone else in town had a poor crop yield, she decides to have a feast and feed all her neighbors. The kids like the story.

After that, we made harvest goodie bags. We filled them with candy, stickers, notepads, crayons and small toys. I told the kids that the bags were for kids in our community that didn’t have enough food, like the people in the story. And that when these kids and their families go to the local food bank this Thanksgiving, that they’d get our goodie bags as an extra treat. We decided that we’d donate our creations to the 4-star charity, Homeless Solutions.

Before I left, I gave the teacher some handouts to stick in each kid’s backpack. I found the activity pages on a site called, Learning to Give. I especially like the “share, save, spend” inspired piggy bank that the kids can make themselves. If I get invited back, then this would be a fun project to do with the kids.

But enough about my experience, how about you? How have you taught young people about giving back?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making The Case For Corporate Giving

Ken Berger, Charity Navigator's president & CEO, makes the case in NJBIZ for corporate philanthropy. He points out that in 2008 corporations gave $14.5 billion to charity and that New Jersey is home to some big time corporate givers. Just last year, NJ based Merck gave $821 million; Johnson & Johnson, $497 million; Prudential, $31 million; and Public Service Enterprise Group, $7.5 million. Ken ends his discussion with some advice on how firms can identify great charities to partner with.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

scroogenomics - Wharton Professor Makes the Case for Charitable Giving During the Holidays

In his new book, scroogenomics, Wharton professor Joel Waldfogel advocates that we all donate to charity in someone's name, rather than give another dreaded fruit cake this holiday season. Both in the book, and in a recent interview where he argues that $13 billion is wasted on useless presents, he recommends Charity Navigator as a source of information about charities. And in the book, he even suggests the Good Card as a good solution to holiday gift giving.

Watch the video below to learn more about the professor's research.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Conference Call on International Capacity Building and Effectiveness

Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, along with Sam Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, will discuss the best ways to assess the effectiveness of internationally-focused organizations via a conference call hosted by the Independent Sector. The title of the discussion is "Assessing Internationally-Focused Nonprofits -- Striking the Right Balance of Short-Term Efficiency and Long-Term Capacity" and it will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

For more details and to register, click here.

Charity Leaders Discuss Fundraising in the Down Economy

This year's holiday giving guide includes a roundtable discussion with the leaders of 10 nonprofits. The participants were selected from our Advisory Panel and from the higher rated charities in our database. We've published the first part of that discussion which focuses on how these organizations are fairing in the recession.

Here are some quotes from Part 1:

We continue to be anxious about Foundation giving and the lack of multi-year commitments that new initiatives require. On individual giving, we remain optimistic.~Jeremy Kohomban, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Children’s Village

I believe that if an organization has a good mission and a good story to tell, then it will weather the storm. It takes aggressive planning and a dedicated staff now to position the organization for the future so it’s ready when the economy does rebound. ~Susan Paresky, Senior Vice President, Development, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & The Jimmy Fund

We agree that it will take a couple of years to see people giving again as in the past. In fact, we believe there is a “new reality”, meaning that it won’t ever be as it once was. That due to actual losses and setbacks, or due to paralysis by fear, that the donor public will not be giving as they once did. Smaller gifts, designated purposes, and higher scrutiny will be the new rule.~Curtis Hail, President, e3 Partners Ministry

The second part of the conversation, which discuss the characteristics of a high performing charity, will be accessible on our site in December.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creative Ways To Donate This Holiday Season

Users of Charity Navigator, and just about anyone opening their mailbox around now, know that requests for charitable donations soar at the end of the year. Why? There are three main reasons.

  1. The religious nature of the holidays inspire people to help those who are less fortunate.
  2. Taxpayers need to make their donations by December 31 to qualify for a tax deduction in this calendar year.
  3. As the year comes to a close, people look at their personal budgets and determine how much money they have for their charitable interests.
Knowing this, charities step up their appeals for your support towards the end of the year. To help you make smart choices about where to invest your philanthropic dollars, we've published a holiday giving guide that is full of tips and information.

That said, we are fearful that giving will continue to be down this holiday season as it was last year. The recession has hindered many people's ability to support their favorite charities resulting in the biggest drop in charitable giving in the last fifty years. Even if the economy improves, it will likely take many months for charitable giving to rebound.

Thankfully, Shelly Banjo over at the Wall Street Journal has some smart ideas for how you can still afford to give in this down economy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Car Donations & Your Taxes

Recent reports indicate that the IRS isn't doing enough to ensure that donors are properly documenting their deductions for car donations or to make sure that the charities are following the new laws. While that may be true, we still urge donors to be careful when claiming these deductions. For more information, check out our Guide To Donating Your Car.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bob Dylan Releases Holiday Record to Benefit Charity

Christmas in the Heart, released earlier in October, is Bob Dylan’s first full-length holiday album. While some Dylan fans are skeptical of the singer’s transition to the Christmas music genre, the album has been met with positive reviews. Dylan shows his holiday spirit not only through the traditional tunes, but through his generous spirit – the royalties from sales of the album are going straight to charity. All proceeds will benefit four-star rated Feeding America, UK-based Crisis, and the UN World Food Programme. Interested in what causes other musicians are supporting? Check out or hot topic page of Celebrity-Charity associations.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do Donors Care About A Charity's Impact?

As Ken Berger recently discussed in his blog entry, Why Should Donors Care About Outcomes and Impact?, we've had some surprising feedback regarding our intention to rate each charity's outcomes. Many experts in the field actually question whether donors even care about a charity's outcomes. So, when the folks over at Zoomerang offered us the chance to use their online survey software, we thought let's take this question to the donors.

That's right, we want to hear from you. Is it important to you as a donor to know that a charity has meaningful results? Let us know now by completing our 3 question survey.

Then check out how other donors are responding.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Today, is a day that Americans pause to honor all our military veterans. This may inspire you to make a donation to one of these 4-star charities:

Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Fisher House Foundation
National Military Family Association
Homes for Our Troops

This Veterans Day you are probably also thinking about the recent outburst of violence at Ft. Hood. If so, then you may want to make a gift to the 4-star charity Operation Homefront which has established a fund to help the families impacted by the tragedy at Ft. Hood.

For more ratings for charities that Support Our Troops, please visit the Hot Topics portion of our site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Drew Carey’s Twitter Challenge Raises Money for Charity

This holiday season, Twitter fans can help guarantee a $1 million donation for the LiveStrong Foundation from actor Drew Carey. What’s the catch? Drew Carey must reach 1,000,000 followers on his own Twitter account (@drewfromtv) by midnight on December 31st. This quirky fundraising scheme began with another Drew – cancer survivor Drew Olanoff - who happens to be the owner of an enviable twitter name, @drew. Drew Olanoff decided to auction this rare twitter user name and donate the profits. Drew Carey, host of “The Price is Right,” got wind of the good-willed auction and bid on the name. He eventually raised his donation challenge to a $1 million promise if he reaches the same number of followers on his own account. The donation will be prorated, so for every new follower, $1.00 will be donated to the LiveStrong Foundation, up to $1 million. Learn more about the story at CNN, or check on @drewfromTV’s progress here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rainn Wilson of “The Office” visits Haiti

Rainn Wilson, better known as quirky Dwight on NBC’s The Office recently travelled to Haiti to learn about the countries staggering poverty rates and troubled education systems. Wilson went with his wife and spent six days with two different charities, the Mona Foundation and Planting Peace according to a USA today article. The article includes blog entries that Wilson wrote while there, which he calls his “webary.” We’ve featured celebrities and their efforts to give back on this blog before. Do you share Rainn Wilson’s interest in international development and human services? Consider a donation to one of our top rated international charities. You can also find a list of four-star charities working in Haiti here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Catch Charity Navigator's Videos on Starfish Television

Two of Charity Navigator's videos have made the jump from YouTube to your TV set. You'll be able to catch our videos on Starfish Television Network on the following dates:
  • Saturday, November 07, 2009 - 11:48 AM EST
  • Saturday, November 07, 2009 - 5:23 PM EST
  • Sunday, November 15, 2009 - 1:20 AM EST
  • Monday, November 16, 2009 - 9:11 AM EST
  • Saturday, November 21, 2009 - 2:18 AM EST
There are 4 ways to view Starfish Television Network:
  1. Dish Network 1000 platform, channels 296 & 9408
  2. Coaxial Cable TV (Edinboro PA) channel 8
  3. Visit www.StarfishTV.org, click “Watch Live”
  4. Visit www.ZapMyTV.com
And you can find out when we'll be on TV again by visiting our page on the Starfish TV's website.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Appeal(ing) Rewards!

Charity Navigator's Fall donor drive is in full swing. We've teamed up with the
New Jersey Nets to say a resounding thanks to one lucky donor. Everyone who donates $50 or more between now and December 10 will automatically be entered to win 4 tickets (valued at $700!) to a New Jersey Nets game (click here for details). Tough times demand smarter giving--that's why Charity Navigator is more important than ever and why we're asking for your support. Thank You!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Charity Navigator Holiday Giving Tips

For those of you planning end-of-year charitable giving, we offer our annual Charity Navigator Holiday Giving Guide. Reading this online guide before you give will ensure that your holiday donations best reach a good cause.

Explore the Giving Guide:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Volunteer Center of Bergen County, NJ - Executive Director's Roundtable

Next week, Charity Navigator's president & CEO, Ken Berger, will lead a roundtable discussion at The Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Executive Directors in Northern NJ are invited to spend the morning with him and other nonprofit leaders to develop strategies that maintain organizational integrity in the face of prolonged challenges to fiscal stability.

Discussion topics may include:
  • educating our Boards about realistic fundraising expectations in this economic climate

  • developing budget contingencies for the long haul

  • using the combined, proactive power of nonprofits to leverage joint purchasing

  • figuring out how to combine resources for "back office" operations

  • other topics of your choice

Date/Time: Thursday, November 12, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Course Leader: Ken Berger, Charity Navigator
Registration Fee: Free
Level: Intermediate, Advanced
For more information contact The Volunteer Center of Bergen County's Non-Profit Training and Resource Center: 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack, NJ 07601 201-489-9454, training@bergenvolunteers.org, www.bergenvolunteers.org.

November Update

We know that many of you are starting to think about your end-of-year charitable giving plans. With that in mind, we've just published 356 updated ratings, several top 10 lists, and articles.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Charitable Giving, Wealth, and Happiness

A new book reveals that those who are wealthy and donate 10% or more of their income build a higher net worth and are happier than other wealthy people. The book was written by Thomas J. Stanley based on a survey of over 900 millionaires. A recent article about the book, explains that Mr. Stanley says the most generous wealthy donors "are the least enamored with status. They have a small house and a big heart." It seems that the sample of the most wealthy who give, get more out of acquiring wealth and donating a good portion of that wealth rather than just spending their money on luxury items. So it seems donating and helping other does make one feel good!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Here are some charities that are clearly a Treat and not a Trick when it comes to financial efficiency, and their names truly fit today's occasion:
Each day, based on a particular holiday (like Halloween) or current event, Charity Navigator’s experts select 4-5 highly-rated charities to highlight. Subscribe now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nonprofit Executive Leadership Certificate Program

Rutgers Business School offers A Certificate Program for Senior Executives & Emerging Leaders of Nonprofit Organizations and Foundations

November 3-5; 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Are you a nonprofit executive in the NJ area? Then consider signing up for this Rutgers Business School certificate program. It is designed to help you advance your career, gain credentials for enhancing your future, and provides an opportunity for you to network with experts, professionals and colleagues. Led by nationally recognized practitioners, the program covers a wide range of topics including:

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
A personal Model for Life and Career Planning
Ethics and Accountability: Challenges for Nonprofit and Foundation Leaders
Nonprofit Financial Management
Leading through Communication
The Strategic Board
Best Practices in Executive
Relevance and Sustainability

Charity Navigator's own Ken Berger will present "Nonprofit Accountability and Transparency" in the afternoon on the 4th. Learn more and register now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Qdoba's Qmmunity Project

Qdoba Mexican Grill has teamed up with the 4-star Starlight Children’s Foundation to uncover community stars all over the country. The person with the most votes will earn $5,000 for his/her charity and have a Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit donated in their name to a hospital in their area.

What does this have to do with Charity Navigator? Qdoba is using our list of highly rated charities. So what are you waiting for? Nominate a star now and be confident that when you select a charity it will be one that Charity Navigator has vetted.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Top Ten Lists RSS Feed

Last week we added an RSS feed for our Hot Topics section. This week we're happy to announce that we've just started publishing an RSS feed for one of our most popular features...the Top Ten Lists. Access the feed here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Community Foundations Lost Value Last Year

The Council on Foundations recently reported that assets held by community foundations decreased in value by 27% in 2008. This is a significant shift for these grant makers, as the previous five years showed positive returns. This is certainly not surprising in light of the economic downturn; on a positive note, many foundations are already reporting gains of at least 15% in 2009. The findings come from a survey of 200 community foundations with assets of at least $5 million, representing more than half of such grant makers in the country.

To view the ratings of community foundations evaluated by Charity Navigator, click here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Be the Star You Are

Last night, Charity Navigator's president & CEO, Ken Berger, did a radio interview to discuss the new book, Spirit of Service (Ken is a contributor to the book). The radio show, Starstyle-Be the Star You Are! is actually produced by a charity, Be the Star You Are!®, which aims to improve literacy and advance positive media. You can listen to the Cynthia Brian, the show's host, interview Ken online.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

IRS Raising Tax-Exempt Application Fees

The IRS has announced that they will be raising the fees for organizations applying for tax-exempt status. The main fee will be increased to $850 up from $750, the first increase since 2006. The IRS announced that by law they must review and adjust application fees at least once every two years. The review takes into account the average time it takes to review applications. The bright side is that the IRS expects to soon make available Cyber Assistant. Cyber Assistant is a web-based program that will help applicants prepare the application form and so when organization use this program they will only have to pay a fee of $200. For more information about the increase you can go here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Charity Navigator's Leader Contributes to New Book - Spirit of Service

Charity Navigator's own Ken Berger is a contributor to the new book Spirit of Service: Your Daily Stimulus for Making a Difference. The book is a daily guide that explores the many ways we can get involved in service to others. With 365 specific suggestions, and an interactive website featuring opportunities around the nation, there is a calling for everyone.

Arranged in a daily format, each week of Spirit of Service offers seven different ways to serve:
  • MONEY: Donate—find ways your money can make a difference (the section to which Ken lent his expertise)
  • ENERGY: Volunteer—put intention into action
  • FOCUS: Create interest in a cause to bring about change
  • INFLUENCE: Use your personal equity to help others
  • COMPASSION: Open your heart to the needs of others
  • SUPPORT: Get involved—stand up for those without a voice
  • PASSAGE: Join someone on their journey as a guide or mentor
Test out the cool widget below to learn more and become a fan of Spirit of Service on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Feed From Charity Navigator

The Hot Topic portion of our site includes a series of articles with lists of associated charities. Some of the topics we've covered include global warming, the crisis in Sudan, school choice and Hurricane Katrina. The following Hot Topics are currently featured on our site:
We've received many requests to make this format easy to integrate into other websites --- including from our friends at Network for Good. So, we've created a live feed so you can quickly add our Hot Topics to your site. We hope you'll make use of this and our other feeds.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Idol Giving Back a Third Time

American Idol has announced its Idol Gives Back benefit concert is returning for a third year. A concert to benefit the Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save the Children, and the United Nations Foundation will air during the top seven results show on April 21st of next year. The first two specials generated over $140 million for related causes.

Many former Idol contestants have become involved in charity work individually. Adam Lambert, the popular runner-up in the 2009 competition recently raised $229,000 for public schools by partnering with Donors Choose. Clay Aiken founded the Bubel/Aiken Foundation (now known as the National Inclusion Project), which bridges the gap that exists between young people with special needs and the world around them. Curious about other charities with celebrity ties? Be sure to visit our star-power hot topic page here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

United Way Ratings Declining

According to figures released by United Way Worldwide, 57 percent of local chapters reported a decrease in contributions in 2008 when compared to the previous year. Only 32 percent of chapters reported an increase in donations, down sharply from the previously reported 55 percent.

Charity Navigator publishes ratings for over almost 140 local chapters, as well as for the United Way of America, the national organization dedicated to leading the United Way movement. Based on the most recent tax returns filed with the organizations on our site, we noticed the following:

 Based on 2008 (99)Based on 2007 (42)
4 Star13.1%35.7%
3 Star43.4%38.1%
2 Star32.3%23.8%
1 Star11.1%2.4%
0 Star0.0%0.0%

Even though our ratings take into account much more than just the amount of contributions, it is very telling to see the drop in the number of United Ways that have achieved our highest 4 star rating. You can review more in-depth information about any of the United Way organizations that are rated on our website by clicking here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Charity Navigator Participating in Blog Action Day

Along with thousands of other writers around the world, Charity Navigator is participating in Blog Action Day 2009. Today, blogs that typically cover topics ranging from celebrities to stocks will converge on a single subject: climate change. By involving millions of readers, Blog Action Day aims to raise awareness start a global conversation about the growing implications of climate change. You can find out more about this event here.

Charity Navigator is among the many blogs supporting this event. Want to learn more about climate change? Four-star rated charity The Nature Conservancy offers a comprehensive web guide on the issue. We also list dozens of charities on our site that are actively involved with climate change action. You can find a list here.