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, January 29, 2010

Fight Fraud Taskforce & the Center for International Disaster Information Recommend Charity Navigator for Reputable Haiti Help

The Nevada Fight Fraud Taskforce just sent out a press release recommending Charity Navigator as a tool to help donors identify reputable charities prodiving aid in Haiti. Elisabeth Daniels, Chairperson of the Taskforce said “We’re always telling people to beware of scammers, but we can’t just leave it at that. We need to direct consumers to legitimate philanthropic organizations. Charity Navigator is one of the resources we feel confident recommending.”

Charity Navigator is also recommended by the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), an organization funded by the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. CIDI provides individuals, groups, embassies and corporations with information and guidance in support of appropriate international disaster relief efforts. CIDI encourages Nevadans who wish to help victims of the Haiti earthquake to donate cash.

“Nevadans can help the most by donating cash to an established relief agency,” says Suzanne H. Brooks, Director of CIDI. “Cash donations can be used to buy the supplies and emergency items needed on the ground, without the delay of collecting, packing, shipping and distributing in-kind items, which may be inappropriate for the victims in Haiti.”

You can learn more about CIDI and how to best help victims of international disasters on their site. And visit Nevada Fight Fraud Taskforce's site for more information on how to protect yourself from all kinds of consumer scams.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ken Berger Talks To CNN About Haiti Relief Efforts

If you missed Ken's interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien on Jan. 15th, here it is. Enjoy!

Charity Navigator on NBC Nightly News

Last night, NBC Nightly News Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers reminded donors to make informed giving decisions to charities providing aid in Haiti. She included an interview with our president & CEO, Ken Berger, as well as many of our tips.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, January 25, 2010

How Effective Music Benefits Are To Help Causes – Like Haiti?

Ken Berger talks on WNYC's Soundcheck about benefit concerts. Friday night's "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" telethon raised more than $57 million. In comparison, 9/11's "A Tribute to Heroes" raised about $150 million, Hurricane Katrina's "Shelter from the Storm" raised approximately $40 million, Asian Tsunami's "A Concert of Hope" raised around $18 million.

Is It Time To Talk About Donor Fatigue?

After the massive outpouring of generosity for the Asian Tsunami and the Hurricane Katrina victims, many charities were concerned about donor fatigue. What’s donor fatigue? It is the concept that donors who gave to Tsunami and Katrina related charities weren’t going to respond to requests for donations from other charities that they normally would support --- either because they weren’t motivated to give again or because they didn’t have additional funds to give.

Thankfully, after the Tsunami and Katrina everyone was pleasantly surprised at the level of giving in America. The data showed that donors continued to support other charities. In fact, it appears that the devastation caused by Katrina inspired Americans to support charities that help the poor in their own communities. As a result, giving to human services charities actually increased more than 11% (excluding for disaster related gifts) from 2004 to 2005. This is tremendous because the percentage of giving directed to such charities has historically been low as compared to other types of nonprofits (such as religious and education charities).

But, that was then and this is now. And now we’re in a recession. Giving to charities was down 5.7% from 2007 to 2008 --- the biggest decline in giving in 50+ years of tracking such data. And many in the sector are predicting that donations will be down again this year. Many would even say that charities helping the poor are struggling the most! These charities could really use a bump in giving like they saw in 2005. But given the state of the economy and how much donors are giving to Haiti, we very well may be talking about donor fatigue in the months to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Will You Be Watching?

Tonight is the big "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" telethon. As you probably already know from our prior blog and all the media coverage, funds raised from this star-studded event will go to Oxfam America, Partners in Health, American Red Cross, Unicef and Yele Haiti Foundation.

Will you be watching? Seems impossible not to as it will air on 25 networks! But more importantly, will it inspire you to give if you haven't already given? And if you already gave to the Haiti relief efforts, do you plan to give again tonight while watching the telethon? Take our survey and let us know. Then check out how your plans compare with others.

Thank you Zoomerang for giving us free access to your survey tool!

Charity Navigator On The Takeaway

Listen to Ken Berger's interview this morning on the national radio program, The Takeaway.

Professional Fundraisers on the Hot Seat

As we have said before, we advise donors to steer clear of professional fundraisers that call on behalf of non-profit organizations. Not only do most take a cut of your donation which results in less of your money ending up in the charity’s hands, but most of these for-profit companies don’t really care about the cause they’re promoting.
A law suit filed by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against four telemarketers accuses the companies of deceiving the donors they were contacting, in addition to not being forthcoming about the fees they received for their telemarketing services. The four organizations in question kept an average of 76% of funds raised, meaning only 24% of each donation made it to the charity.

It is important to note that the lawsuit was brought after complaints from concerned donors, so we urge you to be proactive, and file a complaint with your state Attorney General’s office if you feel you are dealing with harassment or deceit from a professional fundraising organization. As always, if a professional fundraiser calls you, we suggest you ask for information in writing, and if you wish to support the cause, donate to the organization directly, bypassing the telemarketer all together.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Are Donors Texting or Donating Online?

On Tuesday, we posted a survey on Zoomerang to find out how people are donating to charities responding to the Haiti earthquake. Here are the results so far:

1. If you've made a donation to support the Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts, how did you make that donation?

Online - at the charity's own site 50 60%
Online - via Charity Navigator's site 2 2%
Online - via a social networking site like Facebook Causes 0 0%
Text Donation 8 10%
Mailed a Check 10 12%
Over the Phone 2 2%
Other, please specify 12 14%
Total 84 100%

2. If you made a text donation, is this the first time you gave by texting?
Yes 12 57%
No 9 43%
Total 21 100%

3. If you made a text donation, do you think you'll use this method of donating again in the future for disaster related giving?
Yes 13 65%
No 7 35%
Total 20 100%

4. If you made a text donation, do you think you'll use this method of donating again in the future for donations NOT related to disasters (such as your year-end gifts to charities)?
Yes 7 37%
No 12 63%
Total 19 100%

Donations for Haiti Exceed $305 million

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, donations made to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts has exceeded $305 million. The figures so far show that this pace is faster than the donation response to the Asian Tsunami but slower than the response to hurricane Katrina.

The nonprofit Network for Good that processes online donations (including on our site) reports that it has processed $4 million in donations to the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

The ten charities who have so far received the most donations through Network for Good via the Charity Navigator site are:
The overall amounts may get a boost from the news that Congress has passed legislation that would allow taxpayers to deduct their Haiti donations on their 2009 returns. Many donations in response to this disaster are being given via cell phone texting. For more information on text donations and the safety of them read our blog here.

Wyclef Jean Talks To Oprah About His Charity

Yesterday, Wyclef Jean was on The Oprah Show to give his eyewitness account of how things are going in Haiti. He called the situation apocalyptic and shared the devastating news that the school he founded had been destroyed in the earthquake with everyone – students and teachers- killed.

During the interview, Oprah gave him the opportunity to address the concerns that have been raised about his charity, the Yele Haiti Foundation. He admitted that they’ve made some missteps in handling their financial reporting, but was adamant that he hadn’t personally profited in any way shape or form from his work with the group. Oprah spoke about her three foundations (including the highly-rated Oprah's Angel Network) and she acknowledge how important it is to have the best people running the back office so that she can be the face of the charity. She even said that the IRS practically lives at her office. In other words, her celebrity is a double edge sword bringing more awareness to her charitable pursuits, but also more scrutiny.
Personally, I think this is exactly what is needed with Whyclef Jean’s nonprofit. Millions of dollars have poured into his foundation. And Friday’s telethon will direct millions more to Yele Haiti. If you spent just a few minutes watching his interview, then I don’t see how you can dispute that he’s passionate about helping Haiti and that his intentions are honorable. But, again, his group doesn’t have experience dealing with a disaster on this scale. He even pointed out that the situation is a logistical nightmare! So, it is critical, in the months and years to come, for the media and donors to keep an eye on Yele Haiti’s progress and that Wyclef Jean and his staff be extremely transparent and forthcoming about the accomplishments and shortfalls of this charity.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Good News For Taxpayers

After the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed special tax exemptions to encourage American taxpayers to give generously. Today, we're hearing that the House passed similar legislation (HR 4462) that would allow taxpayers to deduct their Haiti donations on their 2009 returns. What's the catch? You must donate before March 1, 2010.

If you want to take advantage of this tax benefit and you haven't yet donated to Haiti earthquake relief efforts, then go to our site now to access our list of charities providing aid.

Charity Navigator on Bloomberg Radio

Listen to Ken Berger's radio interview on Bloomberg on the Economy. The topic, of course, is Haiti aid.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Are You Donating To Haiti Earthquake Relief Groups?

98% of you that responded to our survey said that you plan to to donate to Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Donors who have already made gifts have supported many of the charities listed on our site including: ActionAid International, ADRA, American Red Cross, Americares, CARE, Compassion International, Convoy of Hope, CRISTA Ministries, Direct Relief International, Doctors Without Borders, Episcopal Relief and Development, Feed My Starving Children, Food for the Poor, Hope for Haiti, International Relief Teams, Mercy Corps, Operations USA, Oxfam, Partners in Health, Samaritan's Purse, United States Fund for UNICEF, William J. Clinton Foundation, World Vision.

Now we've got a follow-up survey to find out how you are giving your donation - are you donating online, via text message or by mail? We look forward to hearing from you! And once you've completed the survey, we hope you'll check out the results.

Thank you Zoomerang for giving us free access to your survey tool!

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Than $150 Million Given For Haiti Aid

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has updated the figures that they reported last week and says that to date more than $150 million has been donated to support Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
Human Rights First
The Carter Center
Institute for Justice
Center for Constitutional Rights

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

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation

We're getting a lot of questions about Wyclef Jean's charity as several sources are starting to raise questions about it.

First off, we do not yet rate this charity as it currently doesn't meet our criteria. Why? It has only filed three Forms 990 and we require at least 4 to complete a rating.

Second, our team has taken a look at what information is available on this group.

At the end of the day, this charity is going to bring in a ton of money because of its affiliated star power. Already it has raised $1.5 million! It is critical that we all- from the media to nonprofit experts to donors - closely watch how it handles all of these new donations. Will it spend the money on its own programs and services? And does that mean it will help with the medium to long term recovery efforts or will it try to provide immediate aid? Will it simply funnel it to other groups -and if so, will it that diminish how much makes it to other organizations?

For more on celebrities and their charity work, visit our YouTube page.

You can read CNN's take on the story online here.

Center for International Disaster Information Echoes Our Haiti Giving Tips

Suzanne H. Brooks, Director of The Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) echoes our recommendations that you donate cash, not items, to an established charity.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Hope for Haiti" Telethon

A telethon ("Hope for Haiti") that will raise funds to assist the victims of the Haiti earthquake has been scheduled for Friday January 22nd from 8-10pm. Actor George Clooney will host the event along with Wyclef Jean and Anderson Cooper (reporting from Haiti). Funds raised will go to Oxfam America, Partners in Health, American Red Cross, Unicef and Yele Haiti Foundation. The event will be televised on eleven broadcast and cable networks. Some information is below regarding other similar telethons that have been held in the past.

  • 9/11 - "A Tribute to Heroes" - raised approximately $150 million
  • Hurricane Katrina - "Shelter from the Storm" - raised approximately $40 million.
  • Asian Tsunami - "A Concert of Hope" - raised approximately $18 million.

Charity Navigator On TV Tonight

Ken Berger will be on NBC Nightly News tonight as well as CNN between 7 - 8 pm. As you would expect, the topic of conversation for both interviews has to do with Haiti donations. Be sure to check out our tips and list of charities providing aid.

Charity Navigator Named Cool Site of the Day

Kim Komando reminds her readers to do their due diligence before donating to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts by using Charity Navigator's free service. Thanks Kim for making us the Cool Site of the Day!

Kim Komando, America's Digital Goddess

Will Haiti Giving Break All Disaster Giving Records?

Americans are generous, especially in times of crisis. Let’s take a look back at several recent disasters to see just how generous we can be:

  • 2001 9/11 – Over $2 billion

  • 2004 Asian tsunami – Almost $2 billion

  • 2005 Hurricane Katrina (also Rita and Wilma) - $6.47 billion

Now the question is will Haiti earthquake relief giving break all previous records for disaster related giving? Probably. Today, The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that more than $73 million has been raised so far. Below are the latest fundraising figures from some of the largest charities responding to this disaster. Many of these charities have said that this level of giving is far greater than anything they’ve seen in the past.

Also, one of the companies that processes online donations, Convio, is reporting that $60 million in donations for Haiti aid. As of this morning, the nonprofit Network for Good that also processes online donations (including on our site) reports that it has processed $1.5 million in donations to the Haiti earthquake relief effort. And the Business Civic Leadership Center says over $27 million in cash and supplies have been donated by 70 of the largest companies in America.

Credit Card Companies Waiving Fees

In light of the tremendous devastation in Haiti since the earthquake, overwhelming philanthropic response individual donors and public pressure, American Express, MasterCard and Visa have announced that they too are waiving administrative fees typically associated with credit card donations. This move follows the waiving of fees initiated by text donations processors, as we discussed previously.

The big three have placed some time and organization specific limitations on the waivers: American Express will waive fees until the end of February for donations made to those organizations that are identified on the US Aid website. MasterCard users will have their fees waived if they donate to the Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, or CARE USA. Visa has indicated that it will donate its revenues generated by charitable contributions (through February) to the Red Cross. In addition, Visa has selected 11 eligible organizations that will have donations interchange fees waived during that same time period.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is just a few days away.

Last year, inspired by by President Obama’s call to service, more than 13,000 projects took place making it the largest effort ever in the 14 years since Congress encouraged Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service. To help ensure that this year's response is just as great, the Corporation for National and Community Service is promoting the All for Good volunteer search tool (it aggregates volunteer opportunities submitted by other volunteer search engines and other organizations).

Charities featured on Charity Navigator, including Hands On Network and Volunteers of America, also list volunteer opportunities on their sites. And our Guide To Volunteering offers lots of advice if you are new to giving your time.

Photo © 2009 Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Donating Effectively to Haiti

Check out our president & CEO's interview on Fox this afternoon:

Charity Navigator's President On TV Tonight

Check out Ken Berger's upcoming TV interviews related to Haiti giving:

Also, here's a sample of our recent media coverage related to this disaster.

Are Text Donations Safe?

By now, most of us have most likely seen or heard many appeals for monetary donations to aid the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Have you noticed that more and more organizations are using social networking sites, and that your friends on Facebook are urging you to send a specific text to a certain number, claiming the money will go directly to a charity?

How do text donations work? A charitable organization registers with a donations processor, who in turn cooperates with the cell phone providers to add the agreed up set donation amount to the users’ cell phone bill. The popularity of text donations has increased rapidly over the past few years. From $200,000 in response to the Tsunami (December 2004), to $400,000 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), to an astonishing $3 million in the first full day since text donations have been set up to aid victims in Haiti. The American Red Cross has already raised close to $4 million, a substantial amount of that total coming in via text donations.

We have received many inquiries from concerned donors about this practice, and have some more information for you. First, we found out via this excellent article on the topic by Richard Mullins of the Tampa Tribune that several text donations processors (MGive for example) are waiving the administrative fees that they typically charge. However, you may want to double check this with the charity of your choice before pushing the ‘send’ button.

Second, as with all your donations, please make sure you have done your research. While it may be a very convenient and efficient way to donate a small amount of money, you still need to feel confident that you are supporting a charity you believe is legitimately impacting the situation in Haiti. Of course, you can always check out Charity Navigator’s list of vetted organizations, or donate to one of the following Charity Navigator rated charities:

  • Text "Haiti" to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of The Clinton Foundation (former President Clinton is Special Envoy to Haiti) – 4stars

  • Text "Haiti" to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee. – 4stars

  • Text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the Red Cross in the U.S.- 3stars

So, should you drop your online or mail donation for a text donation? It depends. Phone carriers may have a maximum limit that you can donate on a monthly basis, so if you are in a position to donate more than $20 - $25 at this point, you may be better of donating via a reputable organization’s website (or donate directly to that organization via our website). While processing fees for online donations have not been waived at this point, a larger donation may offset the associated fees that come with any donation.

Tips, Tips And More Tips For Funding Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts

Avoid Newly-Formed Charities and Give To An Established Charity That Has Worked In Haiti - Establishing a new charity is hard enough, but in a crisis, the odds of succeeding are slim to none. Think of it this way: would you entrust all your savings in a financial firm that just opened, doesn't even have stationery, and whose employees have no experience in investing money? Doubtful. Find a charity with a proven track record of success in providing disaster relief and one that has worked in Haiti. Start with the list of charities provided on Charity Navigator and if a group you are considering supporting isn’t there, then take the time to thoroughly research it before making a gift.

Do Not Give To The Haiti Government – Haiti is known to be a corrupt country. And news reports post earthquake indicate that the government is pretty much not functioning. If that isn’t enough reason not to give directly to the Haiti government, then consider the fact that contributions to foreign governments are not tax deductible.

Designate Your Investment – Generally, it is best to trust your chosen charity to spend your donation as it sees fit. But with disaster related giving, you should specify that you want your donation only used to respond to this particular crisis.

Do Not Send Supplies – Knowing that millions of people are desperately in need of food and water, it is hard not to want to pack up a box of supplies and send it to Haiti. But this type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to Haiti, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims. Furthermore, charities are often able to partner with companies to acquire large amounts of in-kind donations such as bottled water and new clothing. Instead of boxing up and sending your old clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash and donate that to a worthy charity.

Be Careful Of Email Solicitations

      • Be Leery Of People That Contact You Online Claiming To Be A Victim – Unless you personally know someone in Haiti, anyone alleging to be in this position is most likely part of a scam. Obviously, people affected by the earthquake are in no position to contact you directly for assistance.

      • Delete Unsolicited Emails With Attachments - Never respond to unsolicited emails. Do not open any attachments to these emails even if they claim to contain pictures from Haiti. These attachments are probably viruses.

Seek Out The Charity’s Authorized Website – Refer to our blog from yesterday as to why this is important.

Consider The Nature Of The Charity’s Work – Not every charity is responding in the same way. Some are providing medical assistance, some shelter, some food and water. Others will be more focused on either short term or long term rebuilding efforts. And some are just helping to fundraise for other nonprofits. Think about what it is you want your philanthropic investment to accomplish and then take the time to find the charities doing that work. At Charity Navigator we link to each charity’s website so that you can quickly learn more about their plans to help in Haiti.

Be Inspired By Social Media, But Still Do Your Homework – Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs are delivering heart-wrenching images and information about Haiti to our computers and phones. Many of them include pleas to donate. While these tools can be a powerful tool to inspire your desire to help, you should not blindly give via these vehicles. You must take the time to investigate the groups behind such pleas for help to ensure that it comes from a legitimate nonprofit. For example, you can donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting “Haiti” to 90999. As of today, this tool has raised $3 million for the Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

Avoid Telemarketers – As always, hang up the phone do your homework and give directly to a charity.

Do Not Expect Immediate Results, But Do Keep Tabs On What Your Donation Accomplishes- It takes time for charities to mobilize, to assess the problems that need to be addressed and to develop effective solutions. Donors need to be patient so charities will not feel pressured to plunge in and offer ineffective aid, simply to placate impatient donors. That doesn't mean donors shouldn't hold the charities accountable for delivering on their promises! Be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beware of Scam Charities Popping Up

While the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12th has lead to an outpouring of support from many well meaning individuals, it is important for us to note that unfortunately, crisis situations also bring out the worst in some people.

For example, even before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, criminals were setting up websites that included the keyword Katrina (such as www.katrinahelp.com and www.katrinarelief.com) in an effort to collect money and personal information. In the weeks following the devastating storm, the FBI reported that it had identified over 4,000 bogus websites that were attempting to capitalize on the goodwill of generous Americans.

While we have no official word that the following websites are not legitimate, we do wonder about the fact that the domain names were registered today, not even one full day after the earthquake:


While we understand that people are driven to help victims of the Haiti earthquake, we strongly suggest that you do your due diligence and make sure that the organizations asking for your support are legitimate. Of course, one way to do so is by checking to see if the organizations have been vetted by Charity Navigator’s analyst team, and are in fact providing relief in the stricken area. Our evolving list of organizations doing just that can be found by clicking here.

Eyewitness Account From Haiti

A former member of our staf has a brother who has been working in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She wrote to us today to share an email she received from her brother last night. Here's some of what it said:

"The good news is that myself and my team are fine. The bad news is we don't have supplies or ability to move in a city nearly completely destroyed.

The city has been heavily damaged, most destroyed from what we can tell. The MINUSTAH [UN peacekeeping mission] headquarters was destroyed so there is no coordination. We have no supplies for medical here but are treating a few people who we can and wtin for aftershocks. The city has no infrastructure for health care, no security forces, all roads are full of debris and falled walls and electricity. My hotel has totally collapsed, Schools, Parliment, Presidents house, judicial palace, all collapsed. So nothing on the ground to support relief and we are concerned about reaction in several days.

Help is greatly needed."

So far those of you who have taken our survey have overwhelmingly indicated your desire to help. As for which charities you plan to support, most are still deciding. Those that have made donations gave to CARE, Mercy Corps, Red Cross, Operation USA, UNICEF, International Relief Teams, Direct Relief International and Doctors Without Boarders. You can learn about these charities and others offering aid on our site.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

7.0 Earthquake Hits Haiti

I'm sitting here watching CNN's coverage of the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince, this evening. By all accounts, this disaster is devastating. But no one will know how bad it is until the sun comes up tomorrow... most likely we will not know the full extent of the damage and loss of life for days and weeks to come.

For a full list of highly rated organizations that we have verified to be assisting in the relief efforts, please visit our hot topic area: Help the Victims of the Haiti Earthquake.

An extended list of charities working in Haiti and reviewed by Charity Navigator can be found on our site by accessing our Interactive World Map.

And remember to follow our Tips for Giving In Times Of Crisis and our guide for Protecting Yourself From Online Scams to help ensure that your gift gets to those who need it the most.

Please take a moment and take our two question survey about your plans to support the Haiti Earthquake Relief efforts. Then check out the results here.

Thank you Zoomerang for giving us free access to your survey tool!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Signing Up For Charity Newsletters

Armed with the following facts:
  • Only 1 in 10 new nonprofit website visitors register (at least share their email address)
  • Online fundraising has already hit nearly $1 billion dollars
Lisa Sargent set out to find out "How much money could charities raise if they capture just half of the other 90% of visitors?"

To answer this question, Ms. Sargent made use of Charity Navigator's advanced search tool to develop a list of charities to target. Then she started visiting each of their sites and attempting to sign up for their newsletters and other email communications.

She's releasing her findings in two reports. The first examines the sign-up process and the second looks at what happens after a donor signs up. Here are some of the findings included in her first report:
  • 1 out of 10 charities offered no email sign up on their homepage
  • Most subscription boxes were hard to locate
  • Many of the charities asked for too much or too little information
What have you seen as you've visited charity sites? Have you been frustrated or impressed by how hard or easy it was to sign up for their email communications?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Philanthropic Goals

Follow these steps to create your 2010 giving plan.
  1. Determine what causes are most important to you and your family.
  2. Develop a list of charities engaged in that type of work.
  3. Using Charity Navigator’s free website, narrow that list to just a few that are financially healthy, have a donor privacy policy and pay their CEO a reasonable salary.
  4. Then take that list and check each charity for evidence of questionable ethical practices. Visit their websites to see if they are committed to transparency by checking for their financial data, Board list and so on. Be sure to also check Charity Navigator’s News Feed tab for reports of problems.
  5. Next, check each of the few charities left on your list to see if they can offer you an evidence of their impact. You can do this by visiting their website and/or by talking with the staff. You want to learn about the quality and depth of the charity's results as well as their capacity to continue to get these results in the future.
  6. Finally, map out a plan and budget for the year and let each of the few organizations you've chosen know your intentions. Knowing your plan helps a charity keep its fundraising expenses at a minimum while focusing on the programs you intended to support in the first place.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Charity Navigator's CEO Talks About Charitable Giving on Social Networking Sites

At the end of last month, Ken Berger was on the FOX Business channel talking about how charities are using social networking sites. Watch the interview here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Years Resolutions

As you ring in the new year, have you come up with any resolutions? According to our government, some of the most popular resolutions are:

  • Lose Weight

  • Manage Debt

  • Save Money

  • Get a Better Job

  • Quit Smoking

We were pleased to see that Volunteering To Help Others also made the list. But we would like to add one more, "Be An Informed Donor." At Charity Navigator we will continue to work hard to help you accomplish this important resolution in 2010 and beyond.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Charity Navigator would like to be among the first to wish you a very Happy New Year!