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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Some Milestones In Philantropy

  • Do you know what was the first year that charities were required by law to provide copies of their 3 most recently filed Forms 990 to anyone making a request in person or in writing?
  • What institution conducted the first fundraising drive in America in 1643?
  • When were taxpayers first allowed to deduct their charitable donations?
  • When were nonitemizers no longer allowed to claim a charitable deduction on their tax returns?
  • How much money did Americans donate in 2004 to help the victims of the tsunami in South Asia?

You'll find the answers to these questions on our site.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Come Hang Out With Us Online

Charity Navigator is on facebook, twitter and YouTube. Come be our friend and hang out with us. We'd love to meet you online.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our Ever Expanding Database

When we launched Charity Navigator in 2002, we rated 1,100 charities. Today, we evaluate, for free, 5,500 charities. These charities account for roughly 65% of the donations in America. Still, with nearly 1 million charities in existence, there are many deserving (and not deserving) ones that we haven't gotten to yet.

Many times donors will ask for a charity to be rated that is simply too new or too small to meet our criteria as in the case of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation. And sometimes a charity will meet our criteria, but due to our limited resources, the charity is pending an evaluation, such as is the case with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

So, what do you do if we haven’t yet rated a charity you are considering supporting?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Donors Give Millions To Charities Rated By Charity Navigator

During 2010, donors accessed our ratings and subsequently gave more $3 million online via our partnership with Network for Good. In total, nearly 30,000 donations were made to more than 2,900 charities. In December alone, donors made 10,000 donations worth $1.5 million to more than 2,100 charities. (Of course, this doesn't take into account the millions of dollars in donations donors made after visiting our site using methods other than Network for Good.)

On behalf of the charities on the receiving end of all of that generosity, we thank you for your commitment to responsible and informed giving!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nonprofit Leaders You Are Invited: Exceptional Educational & Networking Event on February 2nd

The Children's Support Foundation invites you to
"Collaboration in the Non-Profit World"

Why Do It?
Does It Work?
Are You Doing It?
And Why You Can'tLive Without It.

February 2, 2011
New York, NY

Ken Berger, Charity Navigator
John Mattingly, Administration for Children's Services
Jeremy Kohomban & Linda Stutz, The Children's Village
Doug Bauer, The Clark Foundation
Jeanne Mullgrav, Department of Youth and Community and Development
Andrew Grumet, Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge
Linda L. Bryant & Kathleen Clarke, Inwood House
Vincent Schiraldi, NYC Department of Probation
Christopher J. Bell, Pinkerton Foundation

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Calling All NJ/ NYC/ CT / PA Donors And Nonprofit CEOs

Our friends at Sobel & Co are conducting a short (5 minute) survey to explore the "gap" regarding expectations, perceptions and priorities between donors and the nonprofit executive directors/CEOs. Their hypothesis is that what donors and what the nonprofit administrative team values may be widely different. So, if you are a donor or a charity executive in the tri-state area, please take a few minutes and complete their survey. We’ll post the results when available in a few months.
Photo from Shutterstock.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't Miss The Upcoming Webinar - Uncharitable?

On February 1, Charity Navigator’s Ken Berger, author Dan Palotta and Guidestar’s CEO Bob Ottenhoff will participate together in a Network for Good Nonprofit 911 Webinar. They plan to discuss the ideas presented in Palotta’s book, Uncharitable:How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, including his view of CEO pay in the nonprofit sector.

Sign up now so you don’t miss this lively debate!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. Visit MLKDay.gov.

Today, many schools and places of business are close for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - a federal holiday to honor the memory and accomplishments of Dr. King. Rather than spend the day on frivolous activities, why not donate your time by participating in one of the many community service projects? The widget below can help you find a project that matches your interests.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Come Meet Charity Navigator in California!

With over 4.5 million site visitors this year, Charity Navigator would love to meet some of you. To that end, we're thinking of hosting a California wine country fundraising event--including great wine, food and entertainment--at a winery in the Sonoma Valley on a Saturday evening in late June 2011. We're also planning on throwing in a great extra perk to make it worth the trip!

Since this involves a lot of long distance planning (we're based on the East Coast), we want to gauge the level of interest before we proceed. If you're interested (and we hope you are!), please take a few moments to fill out our very brief 3-question survey. Thanks and we hope to see you there!

Best Regards,
The Charity Navigator Team

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Performance Of International Aid Agencies Examined In New Report

A groundbreaking new report, launched this week by our friends at Keystone (who we are working with us on our pilot test with graduate students to develop CN 2.0), contains powerful new data on the performance of international aid agencies. The report summaries feedback from over 1,000 local partners in developing countries and has the potential to create a new reporting standard.

The report has two major findings.
  1. Local organizations send a clear message. They do not want to be treated as sub-contractors, carrying out international agencies’ projects and priorities. They want agencies’ help to become independent and influential organizations in their own right, responding flexibly to local people’s needs
  2. Feedback is a reliable way of measuring performance. Benchmarks have been calculated and direct comparisons can be made between aid agencies – which is a first for the sector. The report calls for a new reporting standard for agencies that fund local partners. It would create a new level of transparency and accountability, so funds can be directed towards the best performing agencies.

Keystone project leader Alex Jacobs discusses the report in the BBC News clip below. Sarah Jacobs from Save The Children endorses how useful it is saying the "report is something the humanitarian sector as a whole needs to look at".

You have the option to download the full report or the executive summary.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do You Know The Answers?

• How much money did Americans donate to help with the Haiti relief and recovery efforts?
• A year later, how much of that money has been spent?
• How much money did people give via text donations to help in Haiti?
• How many people were still homeless 6 months after the earthquake?
• What is the estimated cost of the earthquake?

Check out the facts we’ve posted about Haiti to find the answers to these questions and more.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Philanthropic Response to the earthquake in Haiti: What Went Right? What Went Wrong?

Leaders of several charities that provided assistance in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake recently participated in a roundtable discussion. The 8 organizations – Water Missions International, Partners In Health, Convoy of Hope, CARE, AmeriCares, Food For The Poor, American Red Cross, Save the Children – spoke about what went right, what went wrong, how they are monitoring their performance, what role charities should play in these types of disasters, how this disaster is different from others, what they’ve learned from this experience and what’s next for their charity in Haiti. Here are a few of their comments:

  • “There is a direct correlation between media attention focused on a disaster and how involved and informed the public becomes as a result. Before making donations, donors should research the organization’s responsiveness to confirm that a long-term, cohesive approach is possible and will be appropriately handled.”~ Food For The Poor

  • “Some of the largest and most experienced disaster relief organizations said that the earthquake was one of the more complicated disasters to which they have had to respond.”~ Partners In Health

  • “The hurdles of identifying appropriate land and resolving questions about land ownership, on top of large amounts of uncleared rubble, have slowed the process of building shelters. While we are beginning to make some progress on this front, no one is satisfied with the pace of progress.”~ American Red Cross

  • “In terms of scale and impact, the Jan. 12 earthquake was the largest and most devastating we had responded to since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.”~CARE

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Earthquake In Haiti - 1 Year Update

Wednesday, January 12th marks the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti and Charity Navigator has created a special section on our site to commemorate the significant outpouring of generosity from donors across America. In our exclusive report, you will find:
Check out the full report on our site now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

IRA Charitable Rollover Permitted For 2010 and 2011

Starting in 2006, persons 70 ½ years old and up were permitted to directly contribute up to $100,000 from a traditional or Roth IRA to a public charity without having to count the gift as taxable income. Many donors took advantage of this opportunity and were pleased when Congress extended this law through 2009. But last year, donors were left in limbo as to whether or not they could use the charitable rollover to save on their taxes. It wasn’t until Dec 17th that Congress decided to extend the benefit through 2011.

Congress is allowing taxpayers to make such gifts until Jan. 31 of this year and still count it as a 2010 distribution. But that doesn’t help those folks who already took their required payouts in 2010, because they were worried that Congress wasn’t going to extend the law. The IRS has determined that those folks are simply out of luck. They can’t retroactively roll it over to a charity.

Visit our site for more information about the tax benefits of giving to charity.

Photo from Shutterstock.

Friday, January 7, 2011

CN's Future

We just published a article on our site that explains Where We Are Headed with the evolution of our charity rating system. We hope you'll take a few minutes and read it.
Photo from Shutterstock.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Time To Set Your 2011 Philanthropic Goals

1.First, determine what causes are most important to you.
2.Next, develop a list of charities engaged in that type of work.
3.Then, using Charity Navigator’s free website, narrow that list to just a few that are financially healthy and have a strong commitment to being accountable and transparent.
4.Check on the charity's results by calling or visiting its website. Make sure it can clearly communicate its goals, challenges and recent accomplishments.
5.Finally, map out a plan and budget for the year and let the organization know your intentions. Knowing your plan helps the charity keep its fundraising expenses at a minimum while focusing on the programs you intended to support in the first place.