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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Time is running out!

Your gifts to charity are an expression of your generosity and commitment to solving the problems that threaten our society. Even if your intentions are 100% altruistic, Uncle Sam rewards your charitable endeavors by making these gifts tax-deductible. But remember you must make your donation by the end of today to claim the tax deduction on your 2010 taxes. Find a charity to support now.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reach For The Stars

Still not sure where to give your philanthropic dollars this holiday season? There are plenty of 3-star and 4-star charities on our site. In fact, we've got around 3,500 charities that earn such high marks. You'll find them in each of our categories and causes. And many of them have also been reviewed against our new accountability and transparency methodology. So, go on, find a great charity and give generously now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanks for Your Support!

All of us here at Charity Navigator want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have so generously supported our work this past year. It is deeply appreciated and inspires us as we move forward with the important work of developing and implementing our expanded and enhanced rating system. This year, over 14,000 of you joined the Charity Navigator donor family for the first time--we are so grateful! Your help is vital to continue the expansion of our rating system and achieve financial sustainability. For those of you who would like to support our efforts but have not as yet done so, we would love to have you join us. Thanks again and we wish you a very happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Year-End Report From Charity Navigator's President & CEO

In our holiday giving tips this year, we encouraged donors to seek out charities that provide information about their results. In our commitment to 'walking the walk,' Ken Berger has used his final report for 2010 to discusses our progress towards our 4 main goals which are to:
  1. Expand and Improve our Products
  2. Broaden Donor Utilization
  3. Increase and Diversify our Funding
  4. Become a 4-Star Charity

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Charity Navigator's President & CEO On TV

Ken Berger discusses how charities are doing in the recession on Fox Business News.

Here are the charitable giving trends that Ken discussed on the show:

  • Individual charitable giving remains strong and is anticipated to be at the same level as last year (that is roughly $230 billion!). This is the bright spot in an otherwise difficult environment for charities. Americans remain recession resistant in their charitable giving!
  • Corporate and foundation giving declined last year and is anticipated to remain lower than in prior years due to lower revenues and investment income as well as a very conservative view on cash flow given uncertainty.
  • Government funding of nonprofits is shrinking as state governments are forced to cut back. This is especially challenging for safety net charities that rely heavily on government contracts and grants. When the stimulus money runs out, this situation could get even worse.
  • Challenges continue for museum and arts organizations as people are focusing more on immediate needs of their local communities.
  • Religious organizations are also beginning to see some signs of cutbacks in giving but overall continue to get the largest share of individual donations.
  • International organizations in Haiti are hoping to see an influx of support to address that countries long term challenges, but do not expect to see anything like the initial outpouring of support. However, they are hopeful that people who gave this past January will give once again during the holiday season.
  • Charities that offer donors a specific opportunity to help people like DonorsChoose (funding a specific need in a classroom in a school) or Kiva (providing a micro-loan to help a poor person start a business) continue to grow in popularity.
  • Charities that consistently measure the impact of their work – such as Nurse-Family Partnership – continue to grow in popularity as donors look for evidence of results and not just anecdotes (stories) and good marketing.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Do you have a favorite charity? Is there one that you support year after year? Which one is it and why?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tick Tock

If you haven't yet made your year-end donations, we urge you not to procrastinate. You have just a few days to make a gift to a qualified charitable organization in order to reduce your 2010 tax bill. To help you make an informed decision before the January 1st deadline, check out our Holiday Giving Tips and our 5,500 charity ratings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Tips On TV

As you might know, charitable giving increases significantly during the last 6 weeks of the year. Some charities get as much as 1/4 or more of their annual donations at this time of year. And we know that 22% of annual online donations processed by Network for Good occur on the last two days of the year. So this is a perfect time for Ken Berger, Charity Navigator’s president & CEO, to appear on TV offering giving tips. In fact, you can catch him on Wednesday, December 22, live, on Fox Business News (11:30).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving Factoids

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.
  • Donations to the nation's 400 biggest charities dropped 11% in 2009. This decline was nearly four times as great as the next biggest annual decrease of 2.8% in 2001, when charities also struggled to raise money from recession-battered donors. Sadly, these large charities say that they don't expect to fair much better in 2010.
  • According to the Census Bureau, 43.6 million people lived in poverty in 2009 which was up from 39.8 million in 2008.
  • Charity Navigator users gave 360% more through our site in January 2010, when the earthquake hit Haiti, than January 2009.
  • A recent survey of charitable organizations in 10 countries around the world revealed that demand for services is rising faster than donations.
  • One in eight people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people annually that all forms of violence (including war).

Visit our site for more holiday inspired factoids. Then share them with your family over the holidays to impress them with your philanthropic knowledge!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finally, Finish Your Holiday Shopping Today!

What? You haven't finished your holiday shopping yet and you are determined to give something meaningful. Well, then a Good Card sounds like the answer for you.

You get a tax-deduction and the recipient (relative, friend, client or coworker) has the opportunity to support his/her favorite charity. Together you make a difference and feel good this holiday season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Network for Good's New Online Giving Study

Last week, our partner, Network for Good, released a study about online giving. The research took a look at $381 million in online giving through Network for Good, including $3.6 million gifts to 66,470 different nonprofits from 2003-2009.

Here are some of the major points from this new, important research:

  • Online giving spikes during the month of December and large-scale disasters. During disasters, donors are more likely to consider new giving options, while in December, they’re more likely to give based on relationships with the charities.

  • A third of all online giving occurs in December, and 22% of annual giving happens in the last two days of the year.

  • Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.

  • Online giving happens largely between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, with a noticeable drop in giving during the noon (lunch) hour.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NJ Nonprofit Professionals - Don't Miss This Event

Sobel & Co.’s Nonprofit and Social Services Group Breakfast Symposium, “Repositioning Your Nonprofit: Getting Ready for What’s to Come,” is just one month away!

On January 12 from 8:00 am -11:30 am at the Woodbridge Hilton (Iselin, NJ) guest speaker, Alex Plinio (from Rutgers University) will speak on “The Critical Role of Ethics for Nonprofit Leaders.” During the symposium, onprofit professionals will learn new approaches to Leadership, Fundraising and Services.

To RSVP, contact Sally Glick at 973-994-9494 or sally.glick@sobel-cpa.com.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Help Your Friends Identify And Support Great Charities

We are now in the throws of the busiest time of year for donations. Between Christmas and New Years, some charities receive 20%, 30% and even upwards of 50% of their annual contributions. If you have website or blog, then you can help your readers make smart choices by including our little charity search widget. It will allow your fans to quickly search for and identify charities that match their philanthropic interests.

Simply copy and paste the code from our site into yours to post this:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Legal Wars

Yesterday's Huffington Post contained an article by Laura Bassett which took a closer look at Susan G. Komen's legal endeavors to protect its 200 registered trademarks. Here's what I said in the article:
"I think it's important that charities protect their brand, but on the other hand, I don't think the donors' intent in giving their money was to fund a turf war. It's very important that Komen treads carefully and is very transparent about how they're spending money on these legal battles."
What do you think? Have you donated to Komen or another breast cancer charity? Are you disappointed to hear that Komen has used some of its resources to fund these legal battles? Or do you think charities should aggressively protect their brands?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Did You Donate To Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts?

If so, we want to know more about your experience. For example, are you confident that the charities that responded spent the money they raised wisely? What influenced your selection of a particular charity? Would you support that charity again?
Take our short survey now.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our CEO Speaks At Canada's House of Commons Today

Ken Berger, Charity Navigator’s president & CEO, will provide testimony this afternoon to Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. He was selected to be a witness regarding Bill C-470, which seeks to require Canadian charities to disclose their CEO’s pay (a requirement in the U.S.) and puts a cap on how high those salaries can go (there is no cap in the U.S.). Other witnesses include:
  • SickKids Foundation (the group that caused the controversy that lead to this Bill being introduced)
  • Imagine Canada (a Canadian charity umbrella group that is against both the cap and salary disclosure)
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations
  • Montreal Symphony Orchestra

You can learn more about Mr. Berger’s position here and you can watch his testimony online here.

Monday Morning Movie

Here's a little video to start off your week. Charity Navigator's tips start at 5 minutes and 25 seconds into the film.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday's Film

Ken Berger, Charity Navigator's president & CEO, was on Fox Business News last night talking to Gerri Willis about holiday giving tips. He also shared our list of 'Naughty and Nice' charities.

Holiday Gift That Supports Charities

Looking for a holiday gift that everyone will love and that has a charitable component? The Good Card is it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Inspiring Kids To Give Back

More than other time of year, this is the season for giving back and for inspiring our children to follow our lead. My kids kicked off the season by shopping for doll clothes and then dressing a doll to give away to a little girl without one (they also imparted a lot of hugs and love onto the doll before giving her up). Working off a list of needed items, we hit the supermarket (typically not a place my kids enjoy going) and donated our selections to a group collecting for Thanksgiving meals. And when they got to see a presentation by a highly-rated charity, my kids decided they’d like to contribute to the cause at a level equivalent to their age in dollars. My husband and I then offered a matching grant to make their donation a bit more substantial.

These are just a few examples of small ways in which our family will integrate philanthropy into the holiday season. But there are many, many, many other ways in which we teach kids about giving. What will you do to inspire the children around you to become future donors?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Alternative To Black Friday

Did you know that retailers took in $10.66 billion in sales, in one day, black Friday, 2009? In comparison, arts charities took in $12.3 billion in contributions, in all of 2009.

Before you go out to the stores, why not rethink some of those gifts on your list? I’m sure some (if not all) of your family and friends would be thrilled to receive a Good Card – which enables them to donate to their favorite charity. And since you can buy Good Cards online, you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night and stand in a long, cold line waiting to do your shopping.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Data Analysis Prompts Changes To How We Rate Charities

At Charity Navigator, our Analysts constantly monitor the financial data we collect on the charities we rate. We do this to ensure that our benchmarks – described on the Ratings Tables page of our site - for scoring the performance of the charities are fair and objective. It is through this ongoing research that we have learned that certain types of charities began to feel the impact of the recession more dramatically than others in 2009. This has led us to adjust the benchmarks by which we assign scores for nine causes of charities. As a result, 97 charities now have improved ratings. Please visit our site to learn more.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nonprofit Innovators Talk About Impact

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend NextGen:Charity, a conference designed to help nonprofit professionals learn from other successful leaders and innovators (Charity Navigator’s own president & CEO, Ken Berger, presented). During the event, there was a lot of talk about the importance of measuring impact. And there was and equal amount of honest revelation that most charities aren’t yet tracking their impact.

Here are some of the speakers’ comments that stood out for me:

  • When Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water, was getting started, he said his friends were vocal about what was keeping them from giving more to charity. They flat out didn’t trust charities and they wanted some assurances that their contributions were really making a difference. So, Scott put some relatively inexpensive technology – a GPS devise and Google Maps - to use to show how the very first dollars he raised built wells. This helped him quickly build trust in his brand. He suggested that fundraisers will have more success if they sell an opportunity to support a charity rather than guilting others into donating. And he advocated sharing failures (as was the case when one of his wells failed to produce water).

  • Scott Case, co-founder of Priceline.com, CEO & vice-chairman of Malaria No More, and chairman of the Board of Network for Good, had one of the best tips --- plan to go out of business after you’ve accomplished your mission. Here are his 5 reasons why every charity should operate under that premise:

    1. Everyone wants you to go out of business as that means you’ve accomplished your goal.

    2. It helps you prioritize the outcome ahead of the organization.

    3. It frees up your creatively.

    4. It frees up resources.

    5. And, finally, he says it is a good reason to have a party.

Scott also stressed the importance of having measurable goals (how else will you know if and how to change your course of action), that are achievable and that have a time constraint.

  • Ami Dar, the founder and executive director of the very popular Idealist.org, used his time to talk about why it is that we haven’t yet solved the world’s greatest problems. He’s done a fair amount of research on why people do or don’t get involved. First, he asked people “what do you want to do?” And he found that few people had ever been asked that before. Then he asked “what can help you do it?” Among other things, he learned that people are more likely to get involved if they had a ‘buddy’ to participate with and also if they could see the impact of their efforts.

  • The executive director of the Robin Hood Foundation, David Saltzman, believes that measurement in the nonprofit sector is way behind measurement in the for profit world.

  • Katie Hood, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research said her charity is committed to measuring its impact, but needs to be more disciplined in those efforts. She also stress that it is important to be as honest in communicating areas of impact as areas of failure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nonprofit Experts Offer Tips For Assessing A Charity's Results

One of our giving tips this holiday season is to check out a charity's results before you make your donation. But that's no easy task! So we asked our Advisory Panel to share their tips on how you can find out more about your favorite charity's outcomes.

Here's a sampling of what they said:

  • Sean Stannard-Stockton suggests donors ask charities a variety of questions including "How has the nonprofit adjusted its activities in response to new information?"
  • Leigh Tucker says "...don’t be afraid to contact the organization directly and talk with them about their mission and how your donations are put to work. Most nonprofits welcome the opportunity to talk with their donors about how funds are utilized."
  • Laura Callanan suggests that donors check to see where the big foundations are investing their money.

You can read the rest of their tips on our site.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Know What Your Charity Does Before You Invest

There are more than a 1,000 breast cancer charities in America today. And, no, they do not all fund research or provide assistance to those afflicted with the disease. Some exist to promote awareness and some, as this story from MSNBC highlights, aren't yet sure what it is they want to accomplish. As Ken Berger points out in the story, it is O.K. and even appropriate, for new charities to take their time to develop their programs and services. But as a donor, you should take the time to check that out on the front end, before you make your donation. That way, if you really wanted to fund research and not a start up group, you would direct your money elsewhere.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's Film

This Friday we offer you our Holiday Giving Tips in video format to help you get the biggest bang for your charitable buck this season.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today is Veterans Day

Veterans Day, November 11th, is an annual celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism and sacrifice. And there sure are lots of ways in which you can commemorate this holiday. For example, you can attend the national ceremony or even a local one in your community. You can send a note of thanks someone currently serving in the military or to someone who previously served. You can make a donation to a military related charity, such as the 4-star Fisher House Foundation or the 4-star Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation. You can tie a yellow ribbon around a tree. And yet another way to celebrate is to visit one of our country’s 100+ amazing national parks because on Veterans Day you are permitted to enter for free (of course, if you can afford it, they’d appreciate a donation).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Charting Our Course

In case you missed it, we wanted to take the opportunity in this space to update you on our progress toward the creation of CN 2.0, the revolutionary next generation of Charity Navigator. Our new rating system, scheduled to debut at the end of 2012, will provide donors a 3-dimensional view of each of the charities we rate. We hope you'll consider joining the legions of Charity Navigator friends and fans who have provided vital financial support for this endeavor. If you'd like to help, you can do so here. Thank You!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tis’ The Season For Charitable Appeals

As you open your mailbox or email inbox over the next several weeks, you will surely come across a charitable appeal as this is the traditional charitable giving season. If you are one of the millions of American’s that will make a charitable donation between Thanksgiving and New Years, then we encourage you to check out our 2010 Holiday Giving Guide. It includes:

Finally, if you do plan to give, we hope you'll take our short online survey so we can learn how your plans compare to how you gave last year at this time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Supporting Charities That Provide Holiday Meals

With Thanksgiving approaching, many of us open our mailboxes to find a letter from a local charity asking that we cover the cost of their providing a hot meal to those in need. And if you read this blog, then you know this is an especially challenging time for these types of charities. So, to help you ensure that people in your community can have a special, hot meal this holiday season, we've posted a set of tips. Check it out now and then go write that check.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Top Paying Nonprofit Jobs

Thinking of working in the nonproft sector? Here's some information that may help you select a type of nonprofit position. According to The NonProfit Times 2010 Annual Salary and Benefits report the 10 highest average paying jobs in the sector are:

  1. Chief Scientific Officer $211,550
  2. General Counsel $179,174
  3. Chief Medical Officer $152,078
  4. Physician $144,639
  5. Chancellor/President $134,207
  6. Psychiatrist $132,227
  7. Regional Vice President $129,376

  8. Chief Advocacy Officer $120,499
  9. Chief Information Officer $116,299
  10. Chief Executive Officer $115, 065

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hear Ken Speak at NextGen:Charity

On November 18 and 19, the movers and shakers of the philanthropy sector will be gathering in NYC at NextGen:Charity to discuss nonprofit innovation. Don't get left out in the dark!

Learn from speakers like our very own Ken Berger:

To thank you for following Charity Navigator's blog, we've partnered with NextGen to give you 20% off the conference ticket price. Register now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

NJ Nonprofits Save This Date

Sobel & Co.’s Nonprofit and Social Services Group will present its Annual Breakfast Symposium on January 12, 2011 from 8:00 am -11:30 am at the Woodbridge Hilton (Iselin, NJ). This year's theme is “Repositioning Your Nonprofit: Getting Ready for What’s to Come.” And guest speaker, Alex Plinio (from Rutgers University) will speak on “The Critical Role of Ethics for Nonprofit Leaders.”

To RSVP, contact Sally Glick at 973-994-9494 or sally.glick@sobel-cpa.com.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We Won!

Thank you to everyone that voted for Charity Navigator's tagline, Your Guide To Intelligent Giving. Today, it was revealed that we won the 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards in our category.

Here's the analysis on why our tagline is a winner:
This tagline is unique and clear to its mission, and conveys an air of wisdom and refinement.

You immediately sense via the word “Guide” that the Charity Navigator service is an asset to you. The phrase “Intelligent Giving” feeds egos (who doesn’t want to be intelligent?) while it underscores the difficulty in wading through information to make an informed and wise giving choice.

Check out the video announcement.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's In A Name?

Recently, one of our donors pointed out that two of our Top 10 lists had charities listed with similar names. One charity, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, appears on the list of 10 Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions. The other, Disabled Veterans Associations, has the unfortunate distinction of landing on the list of 10 Charities Overpaying their For-Profit Fundraisers. She was worried that potential donors would confuse the two and ultimately think less of the 4-star Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust because of the 0-star Disabled Veterans Association’s similar sounding name.
She should be worried and so should you! With 1 million charities in existence, there are, of course, going to be many that have similar names. This is why we ask those who submit charities for us to review to provide the charity’s unique EIN#. With so many similar names, if we were to just go by the charity’s name, then we couldn’t be certain that we’re taking a look at the charity the donor requested.

Even more troubling is that some people, with less than noble intentions, purposely establish new charities with similar names to well-known charities. Sadly, this is often a successful strategy for attracting donations. And that is why we warn donors to be careful of charities with sound-alike names.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Throwdown: Don't Start A Charity

If you follow our president & CEO's blog, then you know he and Dan Pallotta have been engaged in an ongoing debate about charity CEO pay (see here and here). Well Monday night at 8pm eastern they're going to take the debate from the blogosphere to the airwaves when they discuss the pros and cons of starting a new charity on The Stupid Cancer Show. Don't miss the fireworks!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Less Government Funding Flows To Groups Like Food Banks and Homeless Shelters

We've been warning for some time now (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here) that human services charities (food banks, youth programs, homeless services) can be especially hard hit in a down economy. Why? The demand for their services goes way up, but the pace of income doesn't match that demand.

That makes a new study by the Urban Institute, showing that government support for such groups is down, especially troubling. Their findings reveal that:

  • 56% of human service charities received less funding from State Governments
  • 49% received less from Local Governments
  • 31% received less from Federal Agencies.

That drop in government support, combined with decreases in other sources of revenues, like donations, has forced 82% of human service charities to scale back. Specifically,

  • 21% cut programs and services
  • 17% are helping less people
  • 50% have cut salaries or refrained from issuing pay increases
  • 39% have dipped into their rainy-day funds
  • 23% have reduced their employees benefits
  • 22% have had to borrow money.

Worst of all, the study’s authors predict that things will only get worse for human service charities. They believe demand for their programs and services will continue to increase and that revenues will continue to decline. So, as you start to make your holiday giving plans, please consider supporting a group like your local food bank or homeless shelter this year. For example, you could fund a holiday meal or volunteer at a local youth program.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thanks for the Service!

We frequently hear from donors about how highly they value Charity Navigator and the service we provide. When those donors become our donors, too--that means a lot to us!

An overstuffed, pricey appeal (including a nickel in addition to a lifetime supply of address labels) sent one donor right to our web site to check out Paralyzed Veterans of America. Noting the charity's bloated fundraising expenses prompted this donor to leave this comment and decide instead to make a contribution to our efforts to assist charitable givers in making more informed giving decisions. We say a resounding "Thank You" to this donor and all of you who have joined the Charity Navigator donor family.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Fundraising Cost Charities Can't Control

Charities that solicit contributions from the public are required to register in every state that has such laws mandating registration (not all do). Not only are the initial and renewal registration processes oftentimes cumbersome and intrusive--in some states the fees have become absolutely outrageous!

And we know this firsthand. Charity Navigator is registered in 34 states and, thus far this year, we have paid close to $3,300 in registration fees. Before the year is out, we will have forked over close to $4,500 in fees and spent countless man hours of valuable time filling out redundant renewal registrations. We know the states have good intentions and want to protect their citizens from unscrupulous operators but there has to be a better, more efficient way!

We feel the time has come to fully "nationalize" this process by having charities complete a single registration form that is good for all states. A Uniform Registration Statement does exist, but not all states accept it and even those that do still have their own individual financial reporting requirements in addition to the URS. If a truly integrated national system was adopted, individual states could still collect their fees, but they could be significantly reduced as they would no longer need dedicated office staff to administer these unwieldy programs. That's more money in charities' coffers to spend on services that help people and communities--dollars would go where they are needed and not into state treasuries! We'd love to know what you think--please leave a comment.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday's Film

Today's video comes from KOMO News and it encourages donors to be thoughtful about their breast cancer related purchases. Visit our site for our own video on this topic and to see ratings for breast cancer charities.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do You Know A Top Performing Human Service Professional?

If so, the Superstar Foundation wants to know.

The Superstar Foundation is the first nonprofit organization to specifically seek out, recognize and reward the highest-performing human service professionals in America. Up to 4 winners will receive grants of $5,000 which they can use however they deem appropriate.

Visit their site to learn more and to nominate someone.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What Does Charity Navigator, Pepsi And Yale Have In Common?

A conference on philanthropy this December, that's what.

That’s right; our very own Ken Berger will be a speaker at 6th annual Yale School of Management Philanthropy Conference. The theme of this year’s event, which will take place on December 3 in New Haven, CT, is “Fostering Innovative Ideas for Social Change.” Ken will be on a panel with Claire Lyons, Global Grant Portfolio Manager at the PepsiCo Foundation, Michael Smith, Vice President, Social Innovation at the Case Foundation, and Jose Zamora, Journalism Associate at the Knight Foundation. Their session will focus on Philanthropy 2.0- the role of digital media, networks and technology to promote social change.

You can find out more about this conference and register here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Before Time Runs Out - Please Vote For Charity Navigator's Tagline

Time is running out to vote for Charity Navigator for the 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards.

Voting ends Wednesday, October 6. So please, take a moment, and vote for our tagline - Your Guide To Intelligent Giving – today! You’ll find our listing at the very bottom of the survey, under “16. Organizations- Other Taglines.”

Vote Now!

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Update

On our site today, you will find 408 updated charity ratings and 22 newly added charity ratings. Visit the site to see how charities like Adopt-A-Classroom, The New York Public Library, Wikimedia Foundation, Autism Speaks , United Breast Cancer Foundation , and A Better Chance rate. You can also read our president & CEO's latest report here. Finally, if you plan to make a charitable donation in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, then be sure to check out our Hot Topic on this issue.

Photo from Shutterstock.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don’t Miss This Learning Opportunity

If you are a nonprofit professional and live in the tri-state area, then you will not want to miss the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership’s Nonprofit Executive & Emerging Leader Certificate Program. The event will be held November 2-4 from 8am -5pm at Rutgers Business School’s Newark Campus. The program features distinguished faculty and nationally recognized practitioners, including Charity Navigator’s own president & CEO, Ken Berger, who will lead in-depth presentations and discussions on Nonprofit Accountability & Transparency. Others will present on a wide range of topics including: Fundraising Leadership, A Personal Model for Life and Career Planning, Ethics and Accountability: Challengesfor Nonprofit and Foundation Leaders, Nonprofit Financial Management, Leading through Communication, The Strategic Board, Best Practices in ExecutiveCompensation and Relevance and Sustainability.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Do The Rich Give More?

Not as a percentage of their wealth, according to a recently published study by Paul Piff, a psychologist at U.C. Berkeley. He began his study by giving subjects credits, worth real money, and asking them if they’d like to keep the credits or share it with another person. Subjects who were at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale (both in terms of income and education) gave almost 50% more away than those at the higher end. He then asked the participants how much they believe people should give to charity as a percentage of their income. The average response for those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale was 5.6% while on average the wealthier participants said 2.1%.

Dr. Piff’s results indicate that the poor are more generous than the wealthy. His theory is that the less well off you are the more you depend on others. He says that for the needy, compassion “…instead of money is going to be the resource they can turn to in times of hardship and need.”

Photo provided by Shutterstock.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Free Search Widget

These days there are widgets for so many different organizations --- including Charity Navigator! Our free, search widget allows you to tap into our 5,500 charity ratings right from your website or blog.

Visit our site to learn more.

Friday, September 24, 2010

One-Time Filing Relief for Small Organizations

Monday, September 20, 2010

Growth In Breast Cancer Charities

Summer is nearly over and October is just around the corner. With the change of season, comes apple cider and Halloween decorations – and an overwhelming amount of pink products. Unless you live under a rock, you must know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. And at Charity Navigator that means that we start answering a lot of questions from donors and reporters around the issues of effective cause-related marketing.

While helping a reporter the other day, I developed the following chart. We were trying to test the hypotheses that breast cancer charities have seen greater growth over recent years compared to other disease related groups. Ultimately, the reporter is trying to discern if the amazing amount of corporate partnerships with breast cancer charities has helped this disease generate more revenues. Keeping in mind the limitations to the information below (our database includes just a sampling of all charities working in each of these causes), our data does seem to corroborate that theory.


Median Revenue Growth (last 3 - 5 years)



ALS Organizations






Breast Cancer












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Friday, September 17, 2010

New Way To Donate To Charity Navigator - Give It A Try

You've told us that you want to support Charity Navigator's work so that we can continue to provide you with the objective analysis you need to make smart giving choices. And you've also told us that you prefer easy-to-use and inexpensive online donation tools. So we offer many ways to donate to us - including Google, PayPal, Amazon and Network for Good - allowing you to pick whichever one works best for you.

Today, we're pleased to offer a new donation widget. Powered by Razoo, this tool is so simple to use. In fact, you don't even have to leave this blog to complete your donation. We hope you'll give it a try by making a donation to Charity Navigator today! (See the widget in the right-hand side of this blog).

Why support us?
Charity Navigator, a nonprofit itself, is the only source in America that provides objective analysis of the financial health of more than 5,000 of America's largest charities for free. Donors who use our site not only give more than they planned to before visiting our site, but also support new charities they had not considered before accessing our findings. So your support of our work actually brings more funding into the charitable sector and helps direct it to high performing charities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Upcoming Conference to Focus on Nonprofit Challenges During Tough Times

Now, more than ever, protecting nonprofits and donors during tough economic times requires the commitment and attention of all nonprofit leaders and regulators throughout the country.

With that theme in mind, the National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) will be hosting its annual conference for nonprofit leaders, regulators, policy makers and academics on Oct. 4 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“Charities and Regulators: Doing More With Less During Hard Economic Times” is the theme of the one-day conference which aims to bring regulators and nonprofit leaders to work together effectively on issues of mutual interest.

NASCO President Eric Carriker, an Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts, said that both charities and regulators face challenges during these financially challenging times. “There are limited resources available to our nation’s nonprofits and it is important that all of us connected with the nonprofit sector work hard to ensure that assets intended to provide vital services to our communities are effectively used to support those causes,” he said. Carriker said that regulators strive to prevent fraud, self-dealing and misapplication of charitable assets through regulation of fiduciary duties, restricted funds, charitable trusts, charitable solicitation, and registration for charities and professional fundraisers.

“These are issues that concern both regulators and committed nonprofit leaders because they can damage the integrity of and the public’s faith in the entire community,” he said.

Speakers at the October conference will include leaders in the Nonprofit Sector- including Charity Navigator's own Ken Berger - federal and state regulators, academics and others who will address evolving issues within the Sector. Topics for discussion include updates on initiatives of Congressional and federal agencies related to nonprofits, oversight of nonprofit governance, nonprofit effectiveness measures, innovative fundraising strategies, and philanthropy trends.

The agenda is included below and registration details are available at http://www.nasconet.org/.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Corporate Commitment to Protecting Our Children

Now that school has reopened and fall youth activities are in full swing, we
want to once again highlight a terrific free service offered by CN sponsor IntegraScan, a leading provider of criminal background checks.

Through its Safe Kids program,the company provides $3 million of annual free background checks to any organization, charity or not, serving children and youth. Parents should not have to worry about their children's safety and well-being when entrusting them to coaches and others who conduct programs for youngsters. Click here to learn how you can better protect your kids or those your organization serves.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 National Day Of Service

Nine years ago, terrorists attacked the United States of America killing and injuring thousands. Horrified and compassionate Americans subsequently donate $2.2 billion to various charities that had quickly set up 9/11-related funds. This is the most money ever raised in response to a single catastrophe.

Today, we are asked to commemorate this tragedy and continue the momentum of generosity by donating our time. You can learn about that effort by visiting a website by MyGoodDeed Inc., in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, HandsOn Network, and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum (“9/11 Memorial”). The site even includes lesson plans for teachers and tips for parents. And the widget below shows you how some people have pledged to do good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

9/11 Charities

As anniversary of the September 11th terrorists attack on the United States of America approaches, we’ve received more inquiries from donors about related charities. We have a listing of some on our site, but there are many that are accomplishing great things, but that remain too new or too small for our rating system. If you receive a solicitation in the mail for one of these 9/11 memorial groups that we do not yet rate, then be sure to do your homework before you give. If such a group calls you, then you probably want to politely hang up. And if you get an electronic appeal for support, be sure to seek out the charity’s legitimate website rather than clicking on a link from a source that is unfamiliar to you.

Photo from Shutterstock.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Global Look At Charity Registration

There isn’t a week that goes by without an inquiry from a donor who wants to know if we’ve established a Charity Navigator branch in their country. We have not. Although the scope of the charity’s work may be overseas, we only examine charities with 501 (c ) (3) public charity status in the US. Aside from our limited resources, a major factor in why we haven’t expanded is the general lack of data on charities in other parts of the world.

It was with the knowledge of this growing global demand for nonprofit evaluation and the deficit of requisite data that made me stop and read the minutes from the 2010 International Charity Regulators Conference. This was a meeting of the various entities from around the world - like the IRS in the U.S. - that regulate charities. Representatives from countries like Australia and Scotland discuss their accomplishments and challenges. I know, it sounds boring, but it is a quick read and an interesting snapshot of how nonprofit marketplaces in other parts of the world are changing.

Photo from Shutterstock.com

Friday, September 3, 2010

And We Have A Winner

This week, Gildan Activewear announced the winner of its 5-5-5 Chari-T Design contest. The challenge was to design a t-shirt that would demonstrate the spirit behind charitable involvement as expressed through the many stories that have been submitted to the company's “I Support…” program . A panel of judges comprising industry leaders (including me) and design experts had several excellent submissions to choose from. The judges ultimately felt that Kristen Redfearn's (of Marketing Communications, Inc. in Thomasville, GA) design (shown here) was the best. I liked this design in particular because it is universal in its message and would apply to any type of charitable activity.

If you don't know, the “I Support…” program was launched by Gildan in January, 2010 to help support charities who are struggling in these challenging economic times to maintain revenues necessary to continue their great work. Through the “I Support…” program, the company plans to give up to $100,000 to a charity in January 2011.

In addition to receiving $5,000 in Gildan product, Ms. Redfearn’s winning design will be utilized when Gildan and M&R team up to attempt a new world record for shirts printed in one hour by a single operator at the ISS show in Fort Worth, TX in October.

Nine other designs were among the Top 10 finalists selected in the 5-5-5Chari-T Design contest via public voting. All 10 designs can be viewed on Gildan’s Facebook page.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Conversation With Donors

At Charity Navigator, we often tell donors that they should not hesitate to pick up the phone and call a charity to get answers to their questions prior to making a donation. We maintain that great charities welcome such calls. And so, we were thrilled to hear about the 4-star Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties new program designed to keep its donors informed - the "Investor Web Conference Series."

The Food Bank launched the series last week with a look at what makes it one of the most efficient in the nation. Charity Navigator's own Ken Berger explained to the Food Bank's donors about the various factors that set the Food Bank apart. Then Second Harvest's CFO, Sally Petersen, provided tangible examples of how every donation changes lives. You can view the slides from the presentation below.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vote Today! We’re a 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Award Finalist

We’re thrilled to let you know that our tagline —Your Guide To Intelligent Giving — has been selected, from2,700 submissions, as a finalist in the 2010 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards. Please take a moment and vote for us today. You'll find our tagline towards the bottom of the online survey, under "16. Organization - OTHER TAGLINES."
Vote Now

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years Of Relief And Recovery

Five years ago, on August 29th, Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast. Philanthropists respond by giving $6.5 billion. The pace and level of giving was unprecedented, breaking all previous records of disaster-related giving. In fact, we had some of our busiest days ever as we helped donors review and support the charities that responded to this catastrophe.

A year after Katrina, we published an update. The most popular part of our report was a roundtable discussion among leaders of a few of the charities –Desire Street Ministries, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, American Red Cross, Operation USA and Direct Relief International - that had participated in the recovery efforts. They offered a pretty frank discussion about what went right and what went wrong. The American Red Cross even responded to some of the criticism it had received about its Katrina aid. The report also included a set of 5 takeaways for donors – such as a reminder to follow up on donations made to review the charity’s progress and to determine if needed additional support.

Now, five years later, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 70% of New Orleans residents say they are happy with the recover efforts with 67% saying that they have recovered from the storm. Of course, many news outlets and others are using the anniversary as an opportunity to take a closer look at the recovery efforts including:

I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans earlier this summer. The consistent message I heard was ‘we’re open for business; please send your friends and family down here.” In other words, a great way to continue to support the recovery is to participate in their tourism industry. And why not? I had a wonderful time- from the food, to the jazz, to the museums, to the rich history – it is a fabulous place to visit. Of course, you can still contribute to charities helping in the region and you can still volunteer your time – as my friend did a few weeks ago assisting with Habitat for Humanity via a program initiated through her employer.