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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega Millions For Charity?

With $640 million up for the grabs, tonight’s Mega Million drawing is being called the biggest ever. Although my chances of winning are slim (apparently I’m more likely to die from being crushed by a vending machine, which would be odd since I don’t even eat food from those machines), I admit I’m in it to win it. In fact, a bunch of us in the office went in on some tickets together. And we’ve spent some of our time today discussing how we’d spend that money if we won. We quickly determined that there is an infinite number of fun and frivolous things to spend our winnings on. 

But each of us would allocate a good portion to charity. For me, I’d start with a contribution to Charity Navigator. In case you didn’t know, Charity Navigator is itself a charity and a couple million dollars sure could go far in helping us rate more charities and provide more analysis on each of them. After Charity Navigator I have some other favorite charities that I’d want to support. 

 So, what about you? Would you allocate some of your windfall to charity? If so, how much? And to which charities or causes?

Are You Maximizing Your Charitable Donation Deductions?

The April 15th deadline for completing your taxes is just around the corner. Before you get started, put your knowledge of the rules governing charitable tax deductions to the test with this ten question quiz

Photo: Levent Konuk via Shutterstock.com

Charity Navigator's QR Code


I'm having a little fun on this Friday learning how to use and make QR codes. If I did it right, this one should send you to our website (www.charitynavigator.org). We hope you'll give it a try (do let us know if it doesn't work) and share it. Meanwhile, we will continue to explore new and fun ways to make use of this technology.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Join us for a Webinar

Join us for a Webinar on Wednesday, April 18

Special 10th Anniversary Webinar: Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Charity Navigator
April marks the 10th Anniversary of Charity Navigator. To celebrate this occasion, we're inviting you to a webinar which will reveal the Top 10 things you need to know about how Charity Navigator's free charity rating service can help you be a more informed giver. During the half hour lunchtime presentation, you will:
  • Learn how to search our database of 5,500 charities to find one that matches your passion
  • Find out exactly how our rating system works
  • Discover how you can learn more about the giving process via our tip-sheets and hot topics 
This is a content-packed presentation + Q&A that will teach you how to use Charity Navigator to determine which charities deserve your support.

Noon EDT        or       Noon PST

Image: Olivier Le Moal via Shutterstock.com 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Removing Charities from Favorites

After you've taken the time to find charities that are of interest to you, then you may want to 'save' them so that you can quickly view them the next time you visit Charity Navigator. It is easy to do this as a registered user of the site (this service is 100% free). But sometimes, donors want to remove a charity from their portfolio -- maybe its rating declined or maybe they are no longer interested in funding that type of charity. If you are one of those donors wanting to trim down the list of charities that you track, then here are the instructions for quickly removing a charity from your favorites.
  1. Log into the site and click on ‘My Charities.’
  2. Find the charity you want to remove from your list. 
  3. Click the box next to the charity’s name. 
  4. Select the action ‘remove from my charities’ and hit the ‘do action’ button. 
That’s it. The charity is now removed from your list.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Getting the National Office and Affiliates on the Same Page

While reading an article in The Washington Post about the resignation of several regional and national officials at Susan G. Komen, what caught my attention wasn’t that this is happening in light of the fallout from the Planned Parenthood controversy. The fact that staff is leaving the charity after the policy flip-flop and PR fiasco, isn’t so surprising. Likewise, I wasn’t shocked to learn that the charity is now working on a contingency budget under the theory that donations will be down post-crisis, given the loss of trust in the brand. We could see this coming.

What caught my attention was the fact that the local affiliates are saying that they essentially do not have a seat at the table (with 122 affiliates, they only have one affiliate representative on the nation board). The executive director at one of the affiliates was quoted saying “the affiliate leadership wants to be part of the decision-making.” Well, yeah, of course! Especially, in situations, like Komen’s recent policy changes regarding Planned Parenthood, that are likely to galvanize the public and have a substantial impact on the affliates' image and fundraising capabilities.

To be fair, this is an issue that I’m sure lots of charities structured in this way – such as the American Red Cross , YMCA, United Way, Girl Scouts  - struggle to manage. For its part, Komen says it will address the problem by creating a group of affiliates to work with the national board on setting policies and priorities, but it doesn’t yet have any concrete details as to how that will work. Rebuilding its relationship with the local affiliates while rebuilding the public's trust will be no small task. It will be interesting to see where Komen goes from here.

Image: mangostock via Shutterstock.com

Update: The Chronicle of Philanthropy's April 15, 2012 issue takes a look at how charities manage the relationship between the national headquarters and affiliates.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Charity Navigator Newsletter

Registered users of Charity Navigator have access to premier tools on our site including the ability to track your favorite charitiesshare a list of charitiescompare charities and view historical data.

Did you know that registered users can also elect to receive our monthly, email newsletter?
Our newsletters include:
  • Updates on our popular Top 10 lists
  • Lists of charities with new ratings
  • Notification when we add new charities
  • Announcements about new tools for registered users and changes to our methodology
  • Donating tips such as how to maximize the tax benefit of your charitable donation, how to react when a charity calls seeking a donation, how to be the most informed donor
  • A report from our President & CEO
  • Links to our blogs
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • And much more
You can’t get this information anywhere else, so sign up today!Click here to subscribe (there is no cost for this service) and we promise to send you the information you need to be a more informed donor with greater confidence in all your charitable pursuits.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Social Change Impact Report

A new Walden University/Harris Interactive survey shows that 92% of Americans have taken action to engage in positive social change in the past year. 81% of adults say involvement in positive social change is important to them personally. Adults in Mexico (95%), Brazil (93%), China (91%) and India (91%) are most likely to agree.

And when it comes to social change issues, Americans say education is the most important issue.  Specifically, 40% of participants said education is the most important issue, 35% said health and33% said poverty.  This mirrors how American's gave in 2010.  After we factor out the 35% that go to religious groups (which include houses of worship), the bulk of our donations went to  education charities (14%), followed by human services (9%) and health (8%) charities.

Education is also the most important social change issue in Brazil (63%) and India (56%). However, in France (46%), China (46%), Canada (43%) and Great Britain (36%) health issues are the most important.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top 10 Best (or Worst) Charities

From the Top 10 Charities Expanding in a Hurry to the 10 Charities Routinely in the Red, there are nearly two dozen top 10 lists on our site. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Invisible Children: The Charity Behind KONY 2012

In March 2012, the charity, Invisible Children, released a video called Kony 2012. The video became an Internet sensation with 75 million views on YouTube in just a few days. But the video's tremendous popularity brought the charity a mixed bag of praise and scrutiny. Some bloggers, donors and even reporters have mischaracterized the financial health of Invisible Children and even our evaluation of the charity. We've posted an article on our site in an effort to set the record straight on a few items related to our rating of Invisible Children.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Giving To Charity Can Ease the Tax-Time Burden

Americans made more than $260 billion in tax-deductible charitable donations in 2011. With April 15 approaching, you should know how much you can deduct, what types of contributions are deductible and how to best itemize deductions on your income taxes. Check out our tips now for help in answering these important questions.
  • Article: Accurately Deduct Charitable Gifts
  • Tip-Sheet: Tax Benefits of Giving
  • Giving Calculator: Displays the net cost of a donation and your tax savings
  • Quiz: Are you maximizing your charitable donation deductions?
  • FAQs: Questions about the tax implications of charitable giving 

Monday, March 12, 2012

How Can Charity Navigator Help Me Obtain Benchmarking Data?

Registered users can access Charity Navigator's powerful Sector Analysis Tool. This feature allows you to define  a sector as broadly or narrowly as you like  --- by types of charities (Category and Cause), and by location (Region and State) --- and learn more about how that group of charities performs financially. Each screen shows the top and bottom 5 charities in the sector and the sector's average scores. Many charities and their Boards of Directors use the tool to benchmark their CEO's compensation. Donors use it to better understand how specific charities stack up against their peers.

Photo: cubrazol via Shutterstock.com 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Survey on State of Scaling Impact

Charity Navigator is pleased to share a link to an important study of the State of Scaling Impact Among Nonprofit Organizations and Initiatives, a national research survey being conducted by Growth Philanthropy Network and the Social Impact Exchange (www.socialimpactexchange.org), with assistance from survey experts at Veris Consulting. We encourage you to complete the survey and also pass it along to other nonprofits who are in your network.

Participation in the survey is important - whether or not you are considering or in the process of scaling an initiative. The deadline for submission is Friday, March 23. 

You can access the survey by clicking here  http://verissurveys.com/survey/416460/170d/ 

The goal of this first-of-its-kind survey is to provide funders and the sector at-large with valuable baseline information about the status and readiness for scaling impact among nonprofits and their leaders. For purposes of the survey, ‘scaling impact’ refers to an entity that is scaling its entire organization, a specific program, a model or intervention, a social movement, a policy initiative, a media or advocacy campaign, a marketplace solution, an effort to achieve systemic change, and so on.  The vehicle doesn’t really matter, as long as the goal is to increase social impact.  

As a special thank you for participating, the Exchange will enter your name in a drawing to receive a complimentary registration to their invitation-only 2012 Annual Conference on Scaling Impact and one of three complimentary registrations to their Symposium in June.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Example Of A Nice Collaboration In The Nonprofit Sector

Obstetric fistula is one of the most devastating childbirth injuries. It is caused by the lack of a skilled birth attendant and access to emergency care during delivery. It is a highly stigmatizing, though in most cases treatable condition that results from prolonged, obstructed labor and causes chronic incontinence. According to currently accepted estimates, there are some 50,000-100,000 new cases every year.

 That’s what makes a recent collaborative effort between 4-star Direct Relief International, the UN Population Fund and the 4-star Fistula Foundation so exciting. Together these charities have launched the Global Fistula Map . The map shows 150 health facilities providing fistula repair in 40 countries across Africa, South East Asia, and the Middle East. It is anticipated that the map will improve coordination, and enhance fistula prevention and treatment efforts worldwide.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Charities Respond To Midwest Tornadoes

On February 29, a series storms and tornadoes hit the Midwest killing at least a dozen people and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. Sadly, more storms are expected to hit the area again tomorrow.  Here’s a list of charities responding:
·         4-Star American Red Cross has shelters open in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Missouri.
·         4-Star Direct Relief International has offered assistance to 50 nonprofit clinic and health center partners in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky.
·         4-star Catholic Charities USA says it is coordinating relief efforts with Catholic Charities agencies in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois.

March 1st Ratings Update

Today we posted more than 770 updated charity ratings including:
And we've published more than a dozen new charity ratings such as: