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, May 31, 2013

Moving Day

Today we're moving from suite 201 to suite 101. That's not far to go, but there sure is a lot of stuff to pack and unpack! 

Anyhow, please be patient if we are a little slow responding to phone calls and emails today. We will be offline for most of the afternoon as we relocate everyone's phones and computers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Donations to Donor-Advised Funds Grew 46% Last Year

According to an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) have been growing in popularity over the last few years. Fidelity Charitable, the country's largest DAF, now has more assets than the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s third-largest grant maker. 

Donor-advised funds are becoming increasingly popular because they provide an immediate tax benefit and they can be established with cash, stock and other assets including a car, for example.  Donors can then recommend charities to receive grants from their fund. Ultimately, DAFs provide flexibility and convenience to charitable giving which was not available before.

Our DAF Widget
Available on every rated charities page
For your ease and convenience, Charity Navigator now has a DAF widget on our site that allows grants from Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable to be made to rated charities on our site.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

For many American's the official start of summer R&R begins this long weekend. But we should also be sure to take a moment this weekend to remember those who served and died for our country.  Some may stop by their local veteran's cemetery, some will go to their town's Memorial Day Parade and others may want to honor our military with a donation.  Many worthy charities exist that would be appropriate.  Some provide scholarships to the children of fallen soldiers like the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the National Military Family Association.  If your are interested in caring for Veterans who are still alive you can support an organization like Homes for our Troops or Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.  For other military related charities that get a 4 star rating please review this LIST

So what ever you do this weekend, please be sure to take a few minutes to pay your respects to the men and women who fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Giving via Crowdfunding Sites is Risky

In a recent Fortune article, Charity Navigator's President & CEO, Ken Berger acknowledges that crowdfunding sites provide instant gratification to donors who "desire to move money as quickly as possible and get as much money to the victims as possible." But he goes on to point out that "the danger is that the faster the money moves, the greater the chance of abuse and scandal." 

WPIX-TV: What you NEED to know before donating to tornado victims

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ensuring Your Oklahoma Tornado Donations Get to Those Who Need it

See the footage of our President & CEO, Ken Berger, on Fox Business News discussing on how to vet charities to ensure the money you donate gets to the right place.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to Help Oklahoma Tornado Victims

Find out which charities are responding to the devastation caused by a massive tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

Exclusive Offer for Donors to Attend 2013 Conference on Scaling Social Impact

Are you a donor interested in increasing the effectiveness of your giving and supporting high-performing nonprofits that are scaling their impact? If so, you don’t want to miss the Social Impact Exchange’s fourth annual Conference on Scaling Impact June 18-20 in New York City. 

The Conference is focused entirely on innovative methods to support scaling the impact of effective nonprofit initiatives.  Approximately 400 foundation officers, philanthropists, corporate executives, wealth managers, and philanthropy advisors will gather at the event to share knowledge, learn about innovative co-funding opportunities and develop a community to help scale top initiatives and build the field. The Exchange is offering individual donors complimentary registration to the event (details below).

This year’s featured speakers include Tonya Allen, incoming president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation; Jeff Bradach, managing partner and co-founder of the Bridgespan Group; Jim Canales, president and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation; Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for the City of New York; and Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation.

The over-arching theme of this year’s conference is Increasing Impact Through 3-Sector Collaboration – Philanthropy, Business and Government. To view an agenda and to register, visit www.scalingconference2013.org. If you are an individual donor and are interested in receiving a complimentary registration to the Conference on Scaling Social Impact, contact Nicole Kindred at 212-551-1148 and mention the Charity Navigator offer.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Inefficient Charities and a Professional Fundraiser that Goes on the Record

This should come as no surprise to readers of this blog, but for many donors, they simply don't know that when a 'charity' calls for a donation, it is often a for-profit telemarketing firm calling and that firm typically keeps the bulk of that donation. This fact is why we tell donors it is best not to give over the phone (just hang up). And why WXYZ's Ross Jones' did two stories on the topic.

In the first segment, Ross Jones' explores some of the most inefficient charities that spend a lot of money on fundraising, such as Cancer Support Services and the Law Enforcement Education Program.

In the second segment, Ross Jones' interviews Associated Community Services, one of the largest telemarketers in the country that may have even called you looking for a donation on behalf of one of their charity clients.


Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Raining Nonprofits

Photo via BigStock

Can you guess how many charities are currently registered with the IRS? I bet you didn't think it was over one million!

As of the end of 2012, there were 1,081,891 charities(501(c)(3)’s) in the United States. Based on the July 2012 Census figures, the population is 313, 914,040. This translates to about 1 charity for every 290 citizens. This does not include other tax exempt groups that bring this total up to 1,614,762.  In other words, 1 tax exempt organization for every 194 people. This begs the question: Is it too easy to set up a nonprofit?

While everyone wants to do good, we must ask ourselves whether less may be more.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How to Help the Cleveland Kidnapping Victims

The 4-star Cleveland Foundation has established a fund to assist the three long-missing Ohio women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who recently escaped from their captor. Specifically, donations to the Cleveland Courage Fund which "was established after the discovery of three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade... will go to qualified nonprofit organizations to provide services for these victims." 

Inflate your tires...support a Charity?

This one was a first for us here at Charity Navigator.....a gas station air pump that claims some of the proceeds from the machine will go to a charity.  We recently got word of vending machines being used as a fundraising tool so I guess why not a gas station air pump?  The sign had no details on the arrangement with the charity, specifically how much of the $1 paid for inflating your tires goes to Feed My Starving Children.  Never the less, it is a new fundraising technique that we wanted to share.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Charity Navigator Turns 11

Last month, Charity Navigator celebrated 11 years of operations --- having launched our site on April 15, 2002 with 1,100 charity ratings. 
To mark the anniversary, the staff got together for this photo and then enjoyed a celebratory cake.

We thank you all for your tremendous generosity and support over the past 11 years. We consider it an honor to be your "guide to intelligent giving!"

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Tip I Can't Say Often Enough

Before you make a donation... check the charity’s programs to ensure its efforts truly match your philanthropic passions.
There are a lot of misconceptions among donors about the programs and services that their donations fund. For example, a donor might want to help fund a cure for cancer. The donor selects and funds a charity and then is dismayed to find out that the charity’s programs have nothing to do with research for a cure, but are instead focused on advocating for legislation to pay for patient’s care. This common mistake is easily remedied by doing a little bit of research before writing that check. To ensure that the charity’s work is aligned with your philanthropic interests, visit the charity’s website, check its Form 990 or call their office to learn about their primary programs and services.

Again, don't assume you know what the charity does, take the time to truly understand what it does so your precious philanthropic dollars actually go towards the causes you want to fund.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mother's Day: A Last-Minute Gift From the Heart

Mother’s Day is May 12th. 
Thankfully, it isn't too late to pick out a meaningful gift for mom! 

When you buy a Good Card, she’ll get the opportunity to make a donation to her favorite charity. And for you last-minute purchasers, the best part of this option is that Good Cards are available in e-mail and print-at-home formats.

The Obama's Charitable Giving

Image from BigStock
President Obama and his wife released their 2012 tax returns and it showed that for the year they donated $150,034 to charity.  This amount comes to 24.6% of their adjusted gross income.  The Obama's gave to 33 different charities. The  largest donation of $103,871 went to the Fisher House Foundation (4 Stars).  The remaining donations went to other charities including the American Red Cross (3 Stars), Habitat for Humanity (3 Stars), Boys & Girls Clubs of America (4 Stars) and United Negro College Fund (4 Stars).