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 30, 2011

Investigation Into 9/11 Charities

In our recent blog about the charities created post 9/11, we mentioned a report that "uncovered schemes beset with shady dealings, questionable expenses and dubious intentions." Now comes word that investigations into 9/11 charities have been launched in NY and Arizona. The investigations are looking into "whether they failed to follow state laws — and may have misspent millions intended to help and honor those affected by the terrorist attacks."

Image from Carolina K. Smith, M.D. / Shutterstock.com

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene - How To Help

The East Coast, from North Carolina to New England, took a beating from Hurricane Irene’s heavy wind and rains. Irene left a big mess in her wake with as many as 8,500 people evacuating to Red Cross shelters, around two dozen people dead, 3 million people without power and billions of dollars in damages.

How can you help? By supporting one of these charities:

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    10th Anniversary of 9/11

    After the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans opened up their hearts and wallets and donated more than $2 billion. Several charities quickly set up 9/11 funds, including the American Red Cross (which received about half of that money). Under pressure from the media and the public, charities spent most of that money by the first anniversary of the attacks.

    New charities were also established in the weeks and months that followed the attacks. The IRS fast-tracked the approval of more than 300 new charities related to 9/11. But not all of these groups, from scholarship funds to programs designed to help families of the victims, still exist ten years later, demonstrating just how hard it is to start and maintain a new charity – no matter how worthy the cause. In fact, a 2006 study reported that of the 300 fast-track charities, 38 had closed and 1/3 couldn’t be located. And, sadly, one recent report on 9/11 charities "uncovered schemes beset with shady dealings, questionable expenses and dubious intentions."

    Many of those that continue to exist have done so by rethinking their missions and the way in which they solicit support from the public. One September 11th related charity that is still operating is 9/11 Day. This group asks that we observe the anniversary by doing good and they’ve partnered with groups, like the Points of Light Institute, to help you volunteer. On our site you can check up on some of the 9/11 charities (a lot of the new ones created after 9/11 never grew large enough to qualify for our rating system) and you can also commemorate the anniversary by simply donating to a charity of any kind.

    9-11 Tribute in Lights 2010 Photowalk, 9-11-2010 Tribute in Lights at 12:15am from Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, © 2010 Kamau Z Akabueze

    9/11 Memorial Floating Lanterns, At Pier 40, New Yorkers gathered for an interfaith memorial to commemorate 9/11. The evening culminated in the floating of paper lanterns with messages from New Yorkers written on them.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Radio Interview Discusses How to Evaluate Your Favorite Charity

    I recently had the opportunity to talk with Christopher Springmann, host of the Health Radio show, Life, Love and Health. We discussed Charity Navigator's plans to implement CN 2.0 this summer and CN 3.0 in the not-too-distant future. You can listen to the segment by clicking on the link below.

    Measuring a Charity's Ethics and Effectiveness Health Radio - Talk Radio about Health, Wellness, Fitness & Medicine

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Managing to Outcomes

    In June, Charity Navigator and the NYU Wagner Research Center for Leadership in Action, with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Liquidnet, co-hosted a Forum titled, “Managing to Outcomes.” Leading teachers, field experts and nonprofit professionals attended the Forum and had an opportunity to examine and discuss creative approaches to measuring nonprofit performance.

    For additional information about the event and to view select videos of the presentations, visit our site.

    To view photos from the event, click on the image below.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Our Donors Talk To Us

    I’ve been a fundraiser for a long time—with a variety of nonprofits both large and small. In all the years I’ve been doing this, no donors in my experience have been more forthcoming in their praise for the work of the organization than all of you who support Charity Navigator. We are humbled and grateful for the many kind words and kudos you give our service—thanks for letting us know we make a difference! You spur us on to “keep up the good work”. And so we shall.

    Keep those cards and notes coming! You inspire us! And, as always, we are so grateful for your financial support.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Now is the Time to Write a Review of Animal Welfare Charities

    Help other donors make smart choices about which Animal Welfare charities to support by sharing your personal experience. The 10 highly-rated Animal Welfare charities that get the most reviews during the month of August will be featured in a special Top 10 list on our site next month.
    Write A Review Now

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Don't Miss ETOLUTION 2011

    Watch this short video about ETOLUTION 2011, a conference for nonprofit professionals looking to discover the secrets of high-performance charities. Charity Navigator’s own President & CEO, Ken Berger, will presenting at this conference.

    Be sure to go register now before they run out of tickets.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    A Great Addition to Your Summer Reading List

    If you are interested in the nonprofit field and managing to outcomes, then there is a new book on the market you should read. It is called Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity and it is written by Mario Morino. Here’s a review of it by our very own President & CEO, Ken Berger:

    "This short book is a great starting point for understanding the importance of nonprofits managing to outcomes. It also has a great list of resources to take you further down the road, as well as a number of short chapters by some early adopters and experts in the field. You can get the book for just a couple of bucks

    The book also highlights the work of two of Charity Navigator’s friends – David Bonbright and Dr. Robert Penna. You may recall that Dr. Penna has also recently published a book on this topic, The Nonprofit Outcomes Toolbox (with a Foreword by Ken Berger). And David Bonbright, founder and Chief Executive of Keystone Accountability, is helping us develop methodology to rate charity’s reporting of results (CN 3.0).

    And if you’re not sold yet, check out this video introduction to the book.

    Book Notes: Leap of Reason from Darby / John-Michael Maas on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    What Kind of Donor are You?

    Take a moment and read our article “Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors.” It includes tips such as:

    Be Careful Of Sound-Alike Names
    Concentrate Your Giving
    Hang Up The Phone / Eliminate The Middleman

    How many of these ‘best practices’ can you honestly say you follow as a donor?

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Ramadan and Charitable Giving

    Ramadan, a holy time when more than a billion Muslims around the world fast and focus their attention on giving to charity, starts today. 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.

    No Update This Month

    As you may know, on the first of each month we publish 300 - 600 updated charity ratings and usually a few new charity rating too. But we are not issuing any updated or new ratings this month as we make the final preparations to integrate the Accountability/ Transparency metrics into our star rating system. That change - from a 1 dimensional to a 2 dimensional rating system - will occur in September and all 5,500 charities will be issued new ratings. We will have more details about this change next month.