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, January 25, 2012

Don't Just Set It and Forget It

Setting up automatic contributions to your favorite charity (or charities) is a great way to give. But as this article from CreditCards.com reminds us, don't forget to do an annual review of those contributions. You'll want to check to make sure the charity is still Financially Healthy, that it is being Accountable and Transparent, and, most importantly, that it has reported on its Results. And you should also check to be sure that the charity's mission is still in line with your personal philanthropic goals.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Donations by Politicians

As the Presidential Election gets closer, we’ll hear more and more about the candidates. And that includes how much they give to charity (an issue we've discussed in the past). Here’s what we found out recently:

Friday, January 20, 2012

$2000 Grant Competition

Has your nonprofit used strategy & performance management principles to overcome a challenge to achieve your mission? If so, you could win a $2,000 grant from the Ascendant Strategy Management Group.  To compete for the grant, submit a video or podcast of no more than three minutes, or an abstract of 1,500 words (or less) to Mark Cutler (mcutler@ascendantsmg.com) by February 15, 2012.  Your essay, video or podcast should address the following questions:
  • What is your organization's vision/mission?
  • What challenges or barriers to success were you facing?
  • Did you use any strategic planning or performance improvement models or methodologies to overcome the challenge(s)?
  • How did you communicate the plan to your staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders?
  • Did you use any tools or software to help manage the process?
  • Ultimately, did you achieve breakthrough results?
  • And if so, what was the secret of your success?
Winners will be announced at the Mission-Driven Management Summit in Washington, DC in March where Charity Navigator’s own Ken Berger will be presenting.  More information about the grant competition can be found on Ascendant’s blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Giving Habits of the Wealthy

Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently published a study that takes a closer look at the giving habits of high net worth individuals. This study is the latest in a series of in-depth reports on high net worth philanthropic trends, produced as part of an ongoing research partnership between Bank of America Merrill Lynch and The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.  Below are some of the highlights from the study.

What Motivates Wealthy People To Give?
Three of the top four major motivations were consistent for men and women:
  • believing their gift will make a difference (81.7% women, 70.9% men),
  • giving to an organization that is efficient in its use of donations (80.5% women, 69.2% men),
  • and feeling financially secure (77.1% women, 69.5% men).
The study did note some differences between women and men. First, women (65.7 %) are more likely than men (49.8%) to give to charity because they volunteer at the organization.  Men are more likely to support the same organizations each year than women (67.9 % for men vs. 59.5%for women). About 44 % of women were more likely to give to charity to set an example for young people (only 25.1% of men).

What Types of Charities Do They Tend To Support?
Respondents reportedly gave the largest share of their giving in 2009 to foundations, trusts and funds (22.1 %).  The rest of their giving was distributed as follows:
  • educational organizations (19.3%)
  • religious organizations (13.3 %)
  • youth or family services (8.8%)
  • basic needs such as organizations that provide food  and shelter (4.7 percent)
  • environment/animal care (3.5 %)
  • international aid or the promotion of world peace (2.8 %)  
Do They Make Giving A Family Affair?
The participants were also asked about their family history – did their family have a tradition of giving? A majority of both high net worth women (66.3 %) and men (67.9%) reported that they have family traditions (such as volunteering as a family) as a part of their annual charitable giving.

Photo provided by ra3rn.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2nd Anniversary of the Earthquake in Haiti

Thursday marks the 2nd anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. And if you are among the millions that donated, then you are probably wondering what became of the tremendous outpouring of generosity that followed the disaster. You can get an idea of how donations were used by reading a new survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. From YĆ©le Haiti to the American Red Cross, the journal took a look at how dozens of charities responded to the Jan 2010 earthquake. Similar to our analysis on the 1 year anniversary, their 2 year anniversary report shows how much money each charity raised, how much each charity has spent, how each charity spent the money and if the charity has plans to continue its work in Haiti.

For  more on this topic, see our blog, Haiti - 2 Years Later.

Photo: Learning to Walk Again—Earthquake survivor receives rehabilitation training from Partners In Health in Haiti.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Haiti - 2 Years Later

Two years ago, on January 12th, a powerful earthquake hit Haiti. The quake left approximately 3 million people in need of emergency aid and destroyed or damaged more than 300,000 homes. Americans responded generously to this disaster. So generously, in fact, that one poll reported that half of American households had donated to Haiti relief efforts.

 At the time of the earthquake Charity Navigator’s staff compiled a list of tips and charities responding to help Americans be generous and smart about their giving. A year later, we published a special report that took at look at how the money was spent and included the results of a donor survey, a roundtable discussion with leaders of charities that responded and a list of relevant facts & figures.

As we now approach the two year anniversary of the quake, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, is reporting that “Most Money Raised for Haiti Recovery Has Been Spent, but Needs Continue.” Their survey of 60 charities shows that together they raised $2.1 billion. And 15 of 53 that provided details said that they’ve spent all the money already or they had less than $200k left. But by most accounts, the need is still great in Haiti and many are seeking additional funding to continue their work.
So if you gave initially in 2010 right after the earthquake, then now is a good time to check back in with the charity. Find out what the charity been able to accomplish. If you like what you hear and the charity says it has ongoing needs, then consider making a follow-up donation to support hose ongoing efforts.

Photo: Global Aid Network distributes aid in a Haitian IDP camp. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Map Out Your Plans To Share Your Treasure

Now is the time to form philanthropic goals for 2012.
  • First, determine what causes are most important to you.
  • Next, develop a list of charities engaged in that type of work.
  • 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 & Transparent.
  • 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.
Photo by Filip Fuxa via Shutterstock.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

The Staff and Board at Charity Navigator wish you all the best in 2012!

Photo by Fotoline via Shutterstock.