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, October 31, 2012

Protecting Yourself from Hurricane Sandy Scams

As the list of charities responding to Hurricane Sandy continues to grow, carefully consider the nature of the charity's work. That is to say, not every charity is responding in the same way to Hurricane Sandy. Some are providing temporary shelter while others are providing food, water and medical assistance. Other charities are focused on long term rebuilding efforts. And some are simply fundraising on behalf of other charities. Think about what it is you want your donation to accomplish and then make sure you select the charity that is doing that type of work. 

And make sure you can find evidence of a real response by the charity. Avoid charities that only offer a statement that they are preparing for a response (standing at the ready) in case its help is needed.

Read the Tips
See the List of Charities Responding

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nominate Your Favorite Charity Today!

Want to be a champion for your favorite charity? Help your favorite organization qualify for a 2012 Top-Rated Award!

From now until November 15th, if you write a new, positive review for any of your favorite charities, they could win the chance to be on GreatNonprofit's 2012 Top-Rated List (this is the service that provides the reviews that you see on Charity Navigator's site)! The list will be distributed this holiday season to media, like the Huffington Post, TakePart and Parade Magazine, and 2,000 corporate foundations.

Note: During the review process, you'll need to select this campaign in order for the charity to be included (as shown in the image below).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Peer Pressure Is a Good Thing

A new report, from 4-star Do Something, shows that more than half of all teenagers volunteered last year. That’s great news. But what’s more interesting is that the biggest motivating factor is PEER PRESSURE! That’s right, 75% of 13 to 22 year olds who have friends that volunteer regularly also do so.

The study was based on a poll of more than 4,300 young people. Other findings include:
  • 93% of those polled want to volunteer, but not al of them do
  • 40% of those that did volunteer did it with their family, friends or clubs --- they didn’t go through a traditional nonprofit
  • 38% of the young volunteers help with fundraising
  • Boys were more likely to do physical activities like cleaning up the environment or working with kids in sports
  • Girls were more likely to help the homeless or assist arts groups
  • Young people are 66% more likely to learn about volunteer opportunities by talking to others rather than from social media or web sites
  • Young people prefer to volunteer with others of their age
  • Teens want a social component to their volunteer activities
  • Private school students were 25% more likely to volunteer than those in public schools

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Big Day Has Arrived ...

Our Groupon Grassroots campaign launched today on Groupon's site!

Even though we rate more charities than anyone else has ever attempted, our nearly 6,000 charity ratings just aren't enough. Donors and charities beg us everyday to rate additional charities. So, we've partnered with Groupon Grassroots to bring you a deal to increase the number of charities we rate.

We just need 100 people donate $10 to this Groupon Grassroots campaign to have enough funding to rate a new charity. It is critical that at least 100 people support us via this campaign because if we don't reach the “tipping point," then none of the donations will be processed.

But if we exceed the tipping point, then each additional 50 donations of $10 each will add a second new charity rating to our site. That’s a 50% discount on the normal cost of a new charity rating— we know Groupon users love a bargain!

Here’s what you can do to help out:
1. Go to the campaign page to donate and help us reach our goal.
2. Share campaign news and progress on Facebook and Twitter, as well as through email.

Again, thank you for your support!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Year-End Giving Survey

Please take a moment and fill out our year-end giving survey. We have one specific to donors and one for charity representatives. 
  • Donors -- Take our short survey about your year-end giving plans.

  • Charity Leaders -- What are your predictions for year-end giving? Use this survey to let us know.
Be on the lookout for the results in late November.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our Facebook Friends Have Multiplied

Crowd with raised hands from BigStock Photos

We now total more than 6,000 facebook friends. If you're not one of them, then we invite you to come join our group of smart and savvy givers!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Political Donations..Tax Deductible?

US presidential election in 2012 via BIGSTOCK
'Tis the season for providing financial support to your political candidate or cause of choice.  The question is are any of these donations tax deductible?  The Wall Street Journal recently took on this subject in order to clear up some misconceptions and provide clarity for those politically involved donors. The Journal even includes a cool interactive questionnaire to assist you. 
Donations to a specific campaign, party or Super PAC are not tax deductible.  However, there are organizations that are politically involved that you can support while also claiming a tax deduction.  Organizations like The Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are public charities with 501 C 3 status.  Which means donations to those organizations are tax deductible. These organizations can not be for or against a certain candidate but they can take positions on ballot initiatives. So make sure you are aware of the tax deduction rules before you cut a check during this election season.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ins and Outs of Cause-Related Marketing During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and, just as the following video points out, you are sure to find pink colored product wherever you go!

  Los Angeles Local News, Weather, and Traffic

So how do you evaluate which cause-related marketing efforts are worth supporting? Here are a few tips.
  • Authentic: Are there any perceived or real conflicts between the charity’s mission and the company’s values and products/ services? Is there a strategic partnership between the firm and the charity or did the company just color wash its product in pink?
  • Clear / Transparent Packaging: In examining the product’s packaging, avoid vague packaging and make sure you can you easily discern:
    • Charity: What is the specific charity involved in the partnership?
    • Value: How much of your purchase benefits the charity? Is there a minimum or a cap on the firm’s contribution?
    • Timing: When does the offer end?
  • Something You Need: Is the product/ service something you would buy even without the pink ribbon on it?
  • Value Compared to Competitors: Is the quality and pricing of the product as good as or better than other similar products?
  • Not All Breast Cancer Charities Are Alike: The reporter’s tip at the end of the video above is important. Remember, there are lots of breast cancer charities – more than 1,000 - doing all different types of work from research, to funding mammograms, to raising awareness. So, it is critical that you do your homework and make sure you know about the charity on the receiving end of your purchase by checking the charity’s:
    • Programs & Services:  Does it do research, advocacy, awareness or fund patient services?
    • Financial Health: Is it efficient? Is it financially sustainable?
    • Accountability & Transparency: Does it have a strong Board of Directors providing proper oversight? Does disclose its financial documents on its website? Does it have the proper policies and procedures in place to prevent unethical behavior?
    • Results Reporting: Does the charity provide any evidence of its results by reporting on its website?
Read our newly published Roundtable discussion with several well-known breast cancer charities to find out how they decide which products/ firms are a good fit for a cause-related marketing campaign and what they say is the biggest misconception donors/ customers have about cause-related marketing.

Video: #GivingTuesday Hangout #2

Don't worry if you missed yesterday's #GivingTuesday Google + Hangout, you can watch a recording now:

What you don't know what #GivingTuesday is? Visit our site for all the details.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#GivingTuesday Google+ Hangout

Please join us today, Tuesday October 2nd at 12:30 EST for the bi-weekly, #GivingTuesday Google + Hangout.

You can access the chat by visiting our YouTube channel and will have the opportunity to hear from some of #GivingTuesday's great partners (it's the girl power edition today!). 

Remember to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday, ask questions and let us know about some of YOUR great plans (see Charity Navigator's site for some exciting ideas for how you can get involved).

Here are the details at a glance:

Who: Patty Huber Morrissey, Manager, Groupon Grassroots; Rachel Hutchisson, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy, Blackbaud; Sandra Miniutti, Vice President, Marketing & CFO, Charity Navigator; Moderated by Chrysula Winegar, #GivingTuesday Communications Project Lead and Million Moms Challenge Community Manager; Hangout produced by Jaclyn Schiff, #GivingTuesday Social Media Lead
When: Tuesday October 2, 12:30PM EST
Where: GivingTuesday’s YouTube channel

Tweet your thoughts and questions using the #GivingTuesday hashtag.

See you then!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Billions In Revenue, Billions In Expenses

Today, we published 409 new ratings and we added 94 charities to our site. That brings our database up to nearly 5,800 charity ratings. Here’s a closer look at the data we've collected: 
Happy Girl Playing In Pile Of Leaves via BigStock

  • In their most recent fiscal year, these charities generated approximately $208 billion in total revenue. 
  • Of this $208 billion in total revenue, $188 billion came from the charities’ primary revenue sources. More than half of this primary revenue, some $101 billion, came from contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government grants. Another $87 billion came from program service revenue, fees and contracts. 
  • These same organizations reported spending $199 billion. 
  • Roughly 87%, or $173 billion, of these expenses were reported as program expenses. Administration expenses accounted for 9%, or $18 billion, and fundraising expenses accounted for the final 4%, or $8 billion. 
  • The charities we evaluate reported total net assets equaling $474 billion.