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.

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.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Charity CEO Pay Topic For Friday's TV Interview

You can catch Ken Berger talking about our newly released CEO Compensation Study on Friday, 8/27, between 11:30-12:00AM ET on Fox Business News.

Photo from Shutterstock.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Miss NextGen:Charity

NextGen:Charity is a new conference on nonprofit innovation that is modeled after the well-known TED Conference. NextGen:Charity will take place in NYC November 18 and 19, 2010. Speakers on the 18th include Seth Godin (Bestselling Author, Squidoo ), Scott Harrison (charity: water), Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post ), Nancy Lublin (DoSomething.org, Dress For Success) and others. Their talks will be short, fun and inspirational. The second day will consist of workshops for the participating organizations and foundations, including one with our very own Ken Berger.

If this sounds appealing to you, then be sure to buy your tickets now, before the price goes up in September.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Donations To Charities Helping In Pakistan

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that about two dozen charities have raised about $10 million for relief efforts in Pakistan. The writer, Caroline Preston, points out that in the first two and a half weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, 40 charities had raised $560 million. Check out our blog and other articles for some reasons why donations for Pakistan's flood victims are coming in slower than for other disasters.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hot Topic- Pakistan Floods

For those of you interested in supporting charities helping in Pakistan, please check out our Hot Topic. It includes tips for making a smart giving decision as well as a list of charities responding.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Much Do Charity Leaders Make?

With over 3 million donors consulting our charity ratings each year, we get a lot of feedback and questions about charity CEO pay. Potential donors want to know what is appropriate and what is excessive. Here’s a sampling of what some of you have said on the topic of CEO pay, via the comment portion of our site, just in the last couple of weeks:
  • “…it is just as important to check what an organization DOES for the troops as it is to count CEO salary dollars.” ~ about Fisher House Foundation
  • “President Obama's salary is $400k. If the CEO needs to earn $380k, let him work in private industry or run for President.” ~ about International Rescue Committee
  • “No matter how big the organization, non-profit CEOs should not (expect to) be compensated with a high six-figure package. If a CEO thinks she can make more money in the private sector then DO IT. But that is no justification for compensatory excess in the non-profit world! “~ about March of Dimes
  • “I give to UNICEF because of the track record of extraordinary accomplishments, and because UNICEF is already on the ground in more than 150 nations. I used a business model as part of my decision for giving--for each $100 I give, $91.80 goes to programs and about $.08 goes to the CEO. “~ about United States Fund for UNICEF
  • “I don't have a problem with CEOs being properly compensated for efficient management of a charity. However, I don't feel that CEO of IMC could be that much more effective at her job than Nicolas De Torrente, CEO of Doctors without Borders, with his salary $118,900 (or 0.07% of charity's expenses). “~ about International Medical Corps
  • “One of my chief concerns is the compensation of staff, especially CEO's. I won't give a cent to an organization whose CEO pulls in more than $90,000/yr. I understand organizations need competent, experienced people, but I can't afford to fund those salaries--especially when there are other excellent animal rights organizations out there using far more of my money AT LEAST as effectively. “~ about Defenders of Wildlife
  • “The people complaining about too high a salary are just plain wrong. Administering over $200 Million a year is not a simple nor a routine job. You get what you pay for. I want someone with good business skills at the top, and that requires a competitive salary. “~ about Marine Toys for Tots Foundation

So, for those of you who are looking for some assistance in evaluating CEO pay, we’ve released our 2010 CEO Compensation Study. It shows that the median pay for charity leaders is roughly $150,000. The full report includes details on how pay varies by location, charitable mission and organizational size along. The end of the report offers tips for evaluating your favorite charity’s compensation practices. And for more insight on CEO pay at nonprofits, check out our president & CEO’s blog.

Image provided by Shutterstock.com.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

(Guest Blog) Two Parrot Productions Keeps Their Global Cameras Running Full Blast

-By Bill Kizorek

Jessica Kizorek directed in Burkino Faso, Bill Kizorek in Cambodia, and Carly Kizorek just wrapped up taping in Southern Ethiopia. Our father and daughters production company has just just completed either shooting or editing three separate nonprofit documentaries (for Women Thrive, Micro-Credit Enterprises, and IIRR).

Carly listening to translation of what students are learning

Earlier this week, we finished shooting in rural Ethiopia. When I say rural, I mean, in one three-day period, driving 26 hours, much of it on pot-holed, washed out, and non-existant roads to get to the locations of the shoots.We were there to document the collaboration of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and their partners, such as AFD (Action for Development). This week we filmed at Pastoral School projects - an innovative educational delivery systems that allows pastoral and nomadic families to allowed their children to attend classes which IIRR is developing. They customize not only the hours (early morning and early evening classes), but also use curriculum tailored the to the needs of the local animal-centric population.

Kids waiting for school to open

It was surprising to see just how content and happy the people in these settlement appeared - in spite of an almost total lack of access to electricity or running water. Thanks to IIRR and their global partners, however, they now DO have access to education....

Day classes are lit by sunlight, at night by one solar bulb

This is Bill Kizorek, senior partner at Two Parrot Productions, third blog entry for Charity Navigator. We invited him initially because we helped match up Two Parrot Productions with several of the charities who eventually benefited from their grants. But he keeps writing because many of our blog readers enjoyed his prior posts.

Bill doing a sound check in the field outside of Pastoral school

Monday, August 16, 2010

Charities- Take This Social Media Survey

Nonprofit leaders- Do you currently use social media and want to learn how to improve your efforts? Or have you put off utilizing tools like Facebook and Twitter because you are unsure where to start?

Either way, take this short, online survey so we can all learn from one another. As an added incentive, you might win a $50 Amazon gift card for completing the survey. You can learn more here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why Aren’t We Giving More To Relief Efforts In Pakistan?

I was on a radio program earlier this week discussing the sluggish charitable response to the natural disaster in Pakistan. The floods, said to be the worst in 80 years, have left more than 1,600 dead, 2 million homeless, and millions more impacted. So, with such a massive need for aid, why is it that little money is being donated?

Here are some of the possible reasons:

  • Recession – Overall, giving in America was down 3.6% from 2008 to 2009. People, corporations, foundations and governments simply have less to give.
  • Recent Disasters –Donors already responded generously this year to the Haiti earthquake (more than $1 billion given in the first 4 months) and to a lesser extent the earthquake in Chile and the Gulf oil spill ($4 million donated in the first 6 weeks). They may not be motivated or able to give again --- this is the so-called donor fatigue syndrome.
  • Haiti – The media has reported that much of the promised aid money has not yet reached Haiti and that relief efforts have been very slow. This leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those that contributed and cause them to think twice about supporting relief efforts in another part of the world.
  • Summer – Sadly, the timing of this tragedy may be having an impact on donations. Many people are on vacation and outdoors enjoying the summer. They may not be paying as close attention to the news as they do at other times of the year.
  • Media Coverage – In contrast to the coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, the media coverage of the Pakistan floods has been minimal. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.
  • Victims - The scale of the Pakistan disaster has eclipsed the disastrous tsunami in South Asia in 2004 (which generated donations of more than $1.5 billion). Yet, tens of thousands died in the tsunami, not to mention the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives in Haiti this past January.
  • Corruption/ Terrorism Link – Potential donors may be weary of the government and others in Pakistan. They worry if their contribution will really be used to provide aid, as they intented, or diverted to causes they do not wish to fund. In fact, there are already reports that various Pakistan charities, which are fronts for terrorist groups, are getting involved.
  • Government – Even with concerns over corruption and ineptitude, some may view the government in Pakistan as being more able to care for its citizens than, for example, the government in Haiti. For example, the government’s capacity to help had a dampening effect on giving to Chile after February’s earthquake.

Still, various countries and world organizations (such as the US, Europe, the World Bank and the UN) have pledged more than $100 million with about $10-$20 million of that already at work. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is even asking Americans to donate $10 via text messaging. And there are many charities, including Concern Worldwide US, Direct Relief International, Oxfam America, United States Fund for UNICEF, Islamic Relief USA, Plan USA, Save the Children, CARE, Relief International, and ActionAid International USA that are fundraising and providing various types of immediate aid (food, water, medicine, sanitation and housing).

So, we want to know, have you given? Why or why not?

(Photo provided by Shutterstock.com)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saving Philanthropy Releases Preview

Saving Philanthropy, a documentary film exploring the strategies associated with effective philanthropy and high-performing organizations, has just released a preview. Some of the most well known and respected philanthropic organizations and thought leaders are participating in the film, including Charity Navigator's own president & CEO, Ken Berger. Others include: Jane Wales, Director of The Aspen Institute's Program on Philanthropy, Paul Brest, President of the Hewlett Foundation, Kat Rosqueta, Founder of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at Penn, and David Hunter, former Director of Evaluation at The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

In this short clip we hear about Nurse-Family Partnership, an organization Charity Navigator has heralded for getting it right when it comes to financial health and accountability/transparency. Saving Philanthropy highlights Nurse-Family Partnership for its ability to show impacts for two generations.

The clip wraps up with a plea for donors to demand that their charities track and report on outcomes. As you may know, one of Charity Navigator's primary goals is to help deliver this data to our users. Find out how you can help us reach that goal.

Saving Philanthropy Preview Footage from Robert Robinson on Vimeo.

Production will wrap up production in October and with plans to release the completed film in 2011. Keep up with the film's progress on its Website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ramadan & Giving

Ramadan, a holy time when more than a billion Muslims around the world fast and focus their attention on giving to charity, starts this week. Most Muslims will direct their charitable gifts towards helping those stricken by poverty and hunger. Check out our site for a listing of highly rated charities which either work in countries with large Muslim populations or strive towards the alleviation of hunger.
Photo from Shutterstock.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Downside Of Star-Power

Fair or not, charities founded by celebrities are impacted by the star’s public image. Usually, this relationship benefits both parties. The public’s awareness of the charity increases through its partnership with an athlete, actor, singer or other famous person. And the celebrity’s altruism enhances the public’s perception of him/her. But, when things go awry for one, they go downhill for the other too.

Such is the situation that the Lance Armstrong Foundation finds itself in. Highly regarded by many, this charity is best known for its yellow Livestrong bracelets and its founder, the cyclist superstar, Lance Armstrong. Unfortunately, allegations that Lance Armstrong has used performance-enhancing drugs are not only tarnishing his reputation, but also his charity’s. In fact, a recent analysis by Zeta Interactive, a marketing firm that tracks online sentiments, says that positive sentiment for the foundation has dropped from 86% in the beginning of July to 58%.This prompted our president & CEO, Ken Berger, to say that the Foundation is “not going to be able to thrive if the person who is the spirit behind it is in trouble. It is just going to devastate them."

Tell us what you think about this situation. Will Lance Armstrong’s personal problems impact his charity’s ability to fundraise?

Image provided by Shutterstock

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Help Victims of the Pakistani Flood

By some estimates, the recent floods in Pakistan have already killed as many as 1,500 people. Experts worry that more will perish as water-borne diseases take hold. The UN says more than 3 million people have been affected by the floods and UNICEF says that of those, 1.3 million have lost homes and livelihoods.

If you are interested in making a donation to help the victims of the Pakistan floods, then we encourage you to first read our short list of tips for giving in a crisis (or the longer version which can be found on our page about the earthquake in Chile). Then select from one of the ‘featured charities’ on our homepage which include:

Monday, August 2, 2010