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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NJ Charities Say 2009 Was Hard And They Remain Uncertain About 2010

In February, the Center for Non-Profits conducted an online survey to see how NJ's charities were fairing as the recession lingers. Here's a summary of the results.

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of responding organizations reported that demand for services had increased during the past year, and even more (74%) expected demand to continue to rise in 2010.
  • Forty-five percent reported that total funding had declined in 2009, and 43% reported that expenses exceeded support and revenue during the most recently completed fiscal year.
  • Forty-three percent of respondents reported that they had already frozen or cut salaries when the survey was taken, and 19% had implemented some reduction of staff hours. Nearly one-third (31%) had cut staff, and an additional 17% said that they might do so before the end of 2010.
  • Despite these cost-cutting measures, nearly 60% of respondents expected their total expenses to rise in 2010. At the same time, only 38% expected their total 2010 funding to increase, while 35% anticipated a drop in total funding.

You can read the complete report online.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Has Happened With Your Haiti Contribution?

As we have mentioned before, the response to the January Haiti Earthquake has been overwhelming. So many people felt compelled to give in light of the disaster and human suffering that we witnessed via our televisions, computers, radios, and cell phones. But now, a few months later, giving has dwindled, the all-encompassing news reports have eased, and many of us have moved on with our daily lives, our contributions all but forgotten.

But we should know what those organizations we supported are doing with that money. How are they assisting Haiti’s people, in what areas of the country, and are they providing medical assistance, food, water, focusing on long term rebuilding, or a combination? Charitable organizations, as stewards of your good intentions, should be able to easily tell you where your contributions are being spent, and what the strategic plan is for money that has not yet been allocated.

It is encouraging to see that some organizations appear at the forefront of communicating to their donors what is happening with their money. For example, take a look at Direct Relief International’s section explaining their outcomes, or Bright Hope International, which provides detailed information here, as well as Americares’ constant updates here.

As donors, we need to make sure that we follow up after we have given a donation, and that we hold the charitable organizations accountable for what they do with our money. It is important to pay attention now, see how responsive and transparent organizations are. Is it easy for you to find out how the organization is responding, or do you need to do a lot of digging? Are you constantly being bombarded for more money? Does the organization respond to your requests in a timely manner? Find out the answers to these questions now, and let them guide you during the inevitabe next disaster.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour 2010

Earth hour takes place at 8:30pm on Saturday March 27, 2010 and is a global call to action to make a stand against climate change. For one hour individuals, businesses, and communities will turn their lights off to make a united stand against climate change.

Earth Hour is organized by World Wildlife Fund, one of the world’s largest independent conservation organizations. Their mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment. This global event started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million residents turned off their lights. In 2008, 35 countries and 400 cities participated including major landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Empire State Building, London’s City Hall. In 2009 88 countries and 4,088 cities participated. This year, the WWF expects 121 countries to participate and over 5.6 million people have pledged to participate.

If you would like to show your support, just turn off your lights at 8:30pm on March 27th wherever you are on the planet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Book Features Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is featured in the new book, “How To Be An Everyday Philanthropist.” We haven't read it yet, but the concept sounds especially appealing during the current economic climate--- hundreds of ways to be philanthropic without having to open up your wallet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The IRS Is Watching

In these troubled economic times, when many taxpayers have less to give and charities are in great need of the public’s support, taking advantage of the various tax incentives for charitable endeavors can enable donors to be more generous. We've published several tips on our site (along with a PSA and press release) to help you determine if your philanthropic endeavors of 2009 qualify for a tax deduction.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Number Of New Charities Continues To Increase

Although we wrote last week about the IRS revoking some organization's nonprofit status, turns out last year saw the creation of more than 50,000 new charities! You can find all the details in the IRS 2009 Data Book. But below are the relevant details as reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

In total, the number of 501 (c) (3) groups has increased 90% since 1996.

  • 4.3% from 2008 (1,186,915 organizations)- 2009 (1,238,201 organizations)
  • 5.2 % from 2007 - 2008
  • 6 % from 2006 - 2007
  • 1.7 % from 2005 - 2006
  • 3.5 % from 2004 - 2005
  • 4.8 % from 2003 - 2004

70,623 organizations applied for 501 (c ) (3) status in 2009.

  • 60% applications were approved.
  • Less than 0.7% were denied.
  • The rest of the organizations that applied were not processed as they didn't complete the paperwork or they withdrew their application.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Attention: Radio Stations

The April 15th deadline for completing taxes isn't all that far off. Check out Charity Navigator's Public Service Announcement. It is designed to help your listeners maximize the tax benefits of their charitable endeavors. Please consider reading this consumer advisory on air.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Special Events: Running Out of Options?

While we are all still running, walking, swimming and riding our bikes for charitable causes, it has become harder to raise funds while doing so, according to a report by Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council. While the economic realities may have impacted the amount of money raised, the number of participants has remained steady.

The Council states that the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is one of only a handful of organizations that has seen an increase in both the number of participants and the amount of money raised from its athletic events. Out of the top five money earners, only Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure was successful in raising more money in 2009 when compared to 2008.

As our most recent Special Events study indicates, while athletic events are not the most efficient way to fundraise, these events are tremendously important to the causes they support. They raise awareness, cultivate prospective donors, and garner PR exposure and so on. In that light, we recommend people continue to run their races, for both their personal health, as well as in the charitable light of the endeavor. In the end, both the individual participant as well as the organization will benefit from it. However, don’t forego your regular contribution. These days charitable organizations need your support more than ever, and a direct contribution may be more efficient in helping the cause of your choice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From Time To Time The IRS Does Revoke A Group's Nonprofit Status

As we've previously noted, every 10 - 15 minutes a new charity is established in the US. This is a problem because the amount of money available to charities isn't increasing at the same rate.

That said, the IRS does have the power to suspend or revoke an organization's tax-exempt status. And on occasion it does use that power. In fact, the IRS publishes that information in the IRS Bulletin. So far, in 2010, the following groups have had their nonprofit status revoked:

  • Remembrance Foundation of Alpine, UT
  • Lund Family Foundation of Ogden, UT
  • American Debt Solutions, Inc., of Boca Raton, FL
  • Equity Funding Corporation of W Des Moines, IA
  • Main Street Foundation, Inc., of Lawrenceville, GA
  • Coinmach Disaster Relief Fund Trust of Plainview, NY
  • Five Rivers Community Development Corporation of Georgetown, SC
  • Interfaith Adopt-A-Building of New York, NY
  • Jeffrey and Sara Brunken Family FDN of Salt Lake City, UT
  • Newton County Community Center, Inc., of Covington, GA
  • The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation of Portland, OR
  • Nuestra Sra De La Ribida-USA Auxiliary Service, Inc., of Tamarac, FL
  • Call of the Wild Sportsmen, Inc., of Mt Airy, MD

Monday, March 15, 2010

Charity Fundraisers Express Concern About President Obama's Plans To Reduce The Value Of Charitable Deductions

As you probably know by now from our prior blog posts and media coverage on this topic, President Obama's 2011 budget includes a proposal to lower the amount those in the highest tax brackets can deduct for their charitable endeavors. Many donors and nonprofit experts think that this is a horrible idea.

In fact, a recent poll by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), shows that 57% of fundraisers believe this plan would hurt their charity's ability to raise funds. More troubling is that 35% of the respondents said that their charity would be "hurt a lot" if this proposal was enacted. AFP members are so concerned about this issue that they've collaborated with other industry groups to send a letter to President Obama asking him not to "to set limits on important tax incentives for giving."

If you are working on your 2009 tax return and want to learn more about the current tax benefits of giving, then we encourage you to visit our site where we have an article addressing this topic.

Friday, March 12, 2010

President Obama Donates His $1.4 Million Nobel Peace Prize

As you probably know by now, President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Besides the prestige that comes along with this award, the recipient also received a $1.4 million cash award. When President Obama was notified that he won, he said he planned to give the money to charity "in a way that promotes [his] ideals" and that honors the prize committee.

Today, we're learning which charities will receive the money:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Donate your old jeans at GAP and help Habitat for Humanity

Gap is conducting a denim drive where the collected denim will be used to insulate Habitat for Humanity homes. Cotton Inc. uses denim to create UltraTouch natural cotton fiber insulations. Since Cotton Inc. started the initiative in 2006, they have received over 270,000 pieces of denim and have provided UltraTouch insulation for 540 houses, and have kept 200 tons of denim out of landfills.

This week, participating Gap stores will take jean donations as part of the "Cotton: From Blue to Green" denim drive. The stores will give a 30% discount off a new pair of jeans.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Webinar Features Research About Harlem Children’s Zone

Social Solutions will be hosting a webcast on March 25, 2010 at 3pm (EST) featuring Paul Tough, author of Whatever it Takes; Geoff Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.

In this webcast, Paul Tough, who spent five years conducting on-the-scene research at the 4-star Harlem Children’s Zone, will discuss successes and failures of this integrated youth strategy, and include key takeaways for those working to implement something similar in their neighborhood. Social Solutions goal for this webinar is to encourage schools, human service organizations, and government agencies to work collaboratively to improve the life prospects of at-risk youth. Social Solutions hopes that the webinar leaves you energized, better informed, and more passionate about transforming your community.

Register Now.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Haiti/Chile Earthquake Updates

Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors held a teleconference last week entitled "What's with all the disasters? -Philanthropists look for opportunities for impact." The call covered some updates in regards to the earthquake in Chile and some general differences between the earthquake in Haiti and in Chile.

It was estimated that two million people are currently homeless in Chile due to the earthquake.

The main difference between the two qukes is the fact that Chile was in a better position to deal with the affects of the quake vs. Haiti. The structures in Chile were better made and stronger. The government in Chile was better prepared to deal with emergencies. The same goes for emergency response teams in Chile.

The final takeaway from the teleconfernce was that the key will be building a better and stronger Haiti in the future so that disasters like this will not do as much damage. So its crucial that support for long term recovery/rebuliding is considered by charities and donors.

In addition, a recent report states that charities in America have now raised over $890 million for the relief efforts in response to the earthquake in Haiti. The report includes the amounts specific charities have raised individually if you want to check it out here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Which Charity Are You Most Likely To Support?

A recent Harris Poll took a look at which charities are the most trusted and which ones we are most likely to support. The poll of nearly 20,000 consumers 15 years and older was conducted online between January 12 and 21.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Study On Text Donations

Before the earthquake in Haiti, total giving via texting stood at just $1 million. People didn't seem to be adopting to this new way of donation. But Haiti may be the game changer. Already, donors have given more than $50 million via texting to support Haiti relief efforts.

Now a new study by Convio, Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies takes a closer look at who gave via texting for Haiti and why. About 1500 donors responded to the online survey. Not surprisingly, the survey found that younger people were more likely to make a text donation. And like our quick poll, it found that this application might be best suited for crisis giving.

Here's a snapshot of the findings:

  • 77% knew that they could donate via texting to support Haiti relief work

  • 17% of Gen Y & 14% of Gen X donated to Haiti via texting

  • 3% of both Boomer and Mature donated via texting

  • 36% of all respondents would consider texting a donation after a crisis

  • 31% would text a donation if a friend was raising money for a charity

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Support Charities Providing Aid to Chile

We've just published a hot topic about the massive earthquake and tsunami in Chile. The article is full of tips for making informed giving choices in the wake of a natural disaster. And we've also posted a list of highly-rated charities that are working to provide assistance in Chile.
That said, news outlets are starting to speculate that it will be much harder for charities to raise funds for their work in Chile than it was in Haiti as worries about donor fatigue kick in.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chile Earthquake Response

This past Saturday morning, a major earthquake rocked Chile killing more then 700 people and damaging many buildings and roadways. Just like the response to the earthquake in Haiti, many charities are assisting on the ground in Chile and many donors are looking for a way to help. Please remember to review our tips for "giving in a time of crisis" before you donate. In addition, you can easily review 4 star rated Charity Navigator charities that are responding to the situation by clicking here.

March 1st Update

Our March 1st update includes new evaluations for over 370 charities, including Anxiety Disorders Association of America, ZERO TO THREE, Center for Great Apes, Jenkins Arboretum, Little Kids Rock, and the March of Dimes.

In addition, we have also added two new organizations to our website: Alzheimer's Association, California Southland Chapter, and the Canal Alliance.

As always, our latest Top 10 lists are available to view as well.If you have not done so already, be sure to sign up for our free, monthly, email newsletters so that you can automatically be notified about our updates.