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, October 29, 2013

Conference for Nonprofit Leaders: Building a Performance Management Culture

Hey Nonprofit Leaders - Have you heard about the “After the Leap” conference?

The conference, convened by PerformWell (a partnership of Urban Institute, Child Trends and Social Solutions) and the Leap of Reason community, will take place in Washington, DC on December 3 & 4. The event will be a powerful immersion for 350+ non-profit and public sector leaders, board members, and funders who are eager to share and learn more about building a culture of performance management in the organizations, agencies and communities they serve. Attendees will hear from the front lines of those who have taken the leap from anecdote to evidence of impact and are using data to drive intelligence and outcome achievement, including Dan Cardinali (Communities in Schools), Mindy Tarlow (Center for Employment Opportunities), and Thomas Jenkins (Nurse-Family Partnership). National thought leaders, including Melody Barnes, John Bridgeland, and Nancy Roob, will also speak to what funders can do to support the leap to high performance.

Click here to learn more or register to attend.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

O'Reilly Reminds Viewers to Check Out Charities Before Donating

"Know exactly where the money you give is going. That's a key. CharityNavigator.org is a website that can help you." ~ Bill O'Reilly

Our Expanded Methodology - CN 3.0

Today, NPR ran a story  about our plans to evaluate each charity's Results Reporting. Lots of charity professionals and donors are tweeting with questions about the story and our new methodology (which we launched back in January). Here are some links to information about the new metrics, how they were developed and how they fit into our rating system.

It is important to note that we do not intend to rate charities' Results Reporting until we have gathered the data for every organization in our database. The earliest we'll complete the process is 2016 and only provided we are able to secure the needed funding and related resources.

Friday, October 18, 2013

How Much Money Do Nonprofit CEOs in Greensboro, NC Make?

WFMY News took a look at the salaries of several nonprofits in Greensboro, N.C. area and our own Ken Berger comments on their findings.

For more information on charity CEO compensation, see our recently released study.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When A Charity Calls Thursday Tip: Eliminate The Middleman

Eliminate The Middleman

If you determine that the telemarketer is calling you on behalf of a charity that you wish to support, contact the charity and find out how to donate to it directly. That way you avoid having part of your donation taken by a for-profit company.

To conclude the 'When a Charity Calls'  series, if you take only one thing away, we hope it is: when telemarketers are involved, just HANG up the phone!

See our last tip here: Do Some Research

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

“The Way We Were (& Can Be)”

This is a guest post by Adrian Bordone, co-founder of Social Solutions.

Thomas Friedman’s recent NY Times Op Ed ends with this simple, startling conclusion: “And thus does a great country, with so much potential, slowly become ungreat.”  While his piece never draws a direct comparison, it’s no stretch to assert that the human services sector could be another instance of a “great country with so much potential.”

The current budgetary crisis reminds us that sensible decision making continues to be precious and rare in the highest offices of our representative democracy.   Keeping this in mind, those of us at the bitter end of federal, state and local funding must continue to buttress ourselves with an ample, if not overwhelming, set of data that substantiates our claims that what we do makes a measurable difference.  To forfeit the pursuit and accumulation of this evidence of impact is to contribute to the nonsense that imperils the individuals and communities we serve.  We have it within our power to take the higher ground toward intelligence, rather than the low road to compliance.  Accountability has been maligned as the punitive force driving toward a lowest common denominator.  There was a time and place for this type of evolutionary thinking - Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) - but the times have changed.  Performance management is the “strengths-based” approach to identifying and replicating effective and efficient service delivery.  

High-performing agencies are transforming themselves from compliance-driven data collectors to performance driven intelligence generators.  The best of them acknowledge that they are introducing scientific method to the art of service delivery.  This structure creates a context for the pursuit of what works that reveals incite as much as outcomes.  This is the American Way.  This is the new currency of the sector.  This is as innovative as diet & exercise.   It is the fabric of our inheritance and the light on the path toward greatness.  Grant-making agencies from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to the State of Massachusetts Office of Finance have recognized this and begun to guide direct service providers in this direction. As John Kamensky, Sr. Research Fellow for the IBM Center for the Business of Government, has already noted, despite a professed federal commitment to changing the way service delivery informs funding (read John Bridgeland’s account of the Feds’ commitment to performance management in The Atlantic), it is actually state and local efforts to identify and replicate evidence-based program initiatives that are leading the sector in performance-based funding.

We are on the precipice of a sea change.  I believe in our lifetimes we will see a human services sector that demonstrates its desire to make a difference by proving its impact, that measures and improves the difference it makes not merely by anecdotes and that drives change at every level by relentless attention to data.  This transformation can’t come soon enough.  We certainly haven’t done ourselves or the individuals, families and communities we serve any favors by failing to distinguish the interesting from the useful.   Arguably, we have been complicit in, if not outright causing harm to those we aspire to serve.  

John Kamensky, John Bridgeland, Nancy Roob, Mario Morino, and dozens of other human services leaders will speak to this change December 3-4 in Washington, DC, at After the Leap, a conference dedicated to outcomes measurement, performance management and organizational change.

With the focus on results brought about by Charity Navigator 3.0, I’m confident that very soon it will not only be the leaders in the sector who recognize the need for a change in the way services are provided, measured and funded but organizations at all stages of development.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pink, Pink and More Pink Products

In this video, we explore the pros and cons of cause-related marketing in the context of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 


After you watch the video, check out our site for:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Charity Navigator Expands its A.P.I.

Our A.P.I., which offers a quick way to integrate charitable giving on websites and apps, has just been expanded to include all 1.6 million nonprofits. That's right! Not only does the A.P.I. allow developers to find data on nearly 7,000 rated charities, but also basic information on all U.S. nonprofits.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Scammers, Scoundrels and Thieves: Don't we just love scams?

Don't we just all love scams? Certainly not when we fall victim to one.
Thankfully, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified the “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams” for 2013, so that we can keep from falling into common snares. 
Let's examine the one that is directly related to the nonprofit sector and impacts the average donor: Impersonation of Charitable Organizations. This is a fraud that diverts giving by well-intentioned donors from good causes and into the pockets of scam artists. In some cases, a charity impersonator can siphon off significant and critically needed funds from legitimate tax-exempt charities. Donors and nonprofit charitable organizations should be on the lookout for these tax frauds and take steps to counteract them as much as possible.

According to the IRS, impersonating charities is especially popular following major disasters, when concerned citizens attempt to support relief efforts but get fooled by phony emails, telephone calls, or websites pretending to be legitimate charities collecting donations for victims. These tactics are also common near holidays, but they can occur when there is no obvious link to a particular event. Sometimes the scammers use fictitious names and bogus email or Internet addresses that are very similar to those used by legitimate charities, trolling for donors who are attempting to give to a particular organization.
Donors and nonprofit charities can help uncover impersonation frauds by taking these steps:
  • Donors: Checking a charities rating and legitimacy on Charity Navigator when receiving solicitation materials and before donating.
  • Charities: Regularly searching the Internet for websites and organizations that have names that are almost identical or closely similar and then checking Charity Navigator which lists all nonprofit organizations, their tax-exempt status and charities with donor advisories to beware off. 
  • Charities: Alert past and active donors about the possibility of charity impersonation frauds and advise them to donate only to recognized charities, not to give out personal financial information, and not to give or send cash
  • Donors: Contact known organizations to report any suspicions or contact the IRS and/or law enforcement directly
  • Call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number (1-866-562-5227) to report suspicious charities operating in the wake of disasters
  • Fill out IRS Form 3949-A to report suspicions of tax law violations by individuals or businesses
Beware! There really are scams out there. Don't get caught in a snare.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sizing up Salaries at Charities

Our newly release 2013 CEO Compensation Study found that the typical charity’s CEO received a 2.5% raise and received $125,942 in compensation.

Here are just a few highlights from the report:
  • Modest raises are the norm since the recession: Salaries for the CEOs in this study increased modestly since the recession: just 0.8% from 2008 to 2009 and 1.5% from 2009 to 2010 and 2.5% from 2010 to 2011.  These fairly small increases come after the 4.7% median increase charity CEOs received from 2007 to 2008.

  • Charity CEOs that aspire to have big salaries are more likely to succeed if they work at an Educational charity: The data shows that top pay at charities can vary greatly by mission with the heads of Educational charities earning as much as $90,000 more than those running Religious charities.

  • While most nonprofit leaders earn reasonable salaries, a handful earns excessive wages: 11 of the charities in the study pay their CEO more than $1 million.  That’s up from calendar year 2010 when 6 charities in the study had CEOs that were paid at least $1 million.
Visit our site to read the full report

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Can we Expect of the 2013 Year-End Giving Season?

Please take a minute and fill out our short year-end giving survey. We have one specific to donors and one for charity representatives. 

  • Donors -- Take our survey about your year-end giving plans.
  • Charity Leaders -- What are your predictions for year-end giving? Let us know via this survey.
Be on the lookout for the results next month.

Monday, October 7, 2013

New! Video Interviews with Charity Leaders

Charity Navigator has partnered with the GivingLibrary to provide donors with access to video interviews with the leaders of charities that they are considering supporting. 

Each video gives an overview of the charity's origin, accomplishments, goals and challenges. Although the videos have no impact on the charity's star rating, Charity Navigator decided to include them as an additional resource to help potential donors make a more informed decision about the charities they may wish to support. 

 Right now, there are several hundred rated and unrated charities that have videos on our site. We expect that number to grow as the GivingLibrary has plans to produce hundreds of additional videos (including one for Charity Navigator). 

See a Charity's Video Now>>>

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nonprofit Conference on Building a Performance Culture

We think nonprofit leaders will be interested in this upcoming conference. Click on the image to learn more.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When A Charity Calls Thursday Tip: Do Some Research

Do Some Research

Begin by checking to see if the charity contacting you is one of the almost 7,000 charities that Charity Navigator rates. Charity Navigator's ratings provide clear, objective, and reliable assessments of the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of charities. Givers can be confident that in supporting those charities rated highly by Charity Navigator, they will be supporting organizations that are fiscally responsible, financially healthy, accountable and transparent. 

If someone contacts you soliciting a donation for a charity that Charity Navigator does not currently rate you can request a copy of the organization's IRS Form 990 (tax returns). Federal law requires nonprofit organizations to provide their last 3 IRS Form 990s and their IRS Form 1023 (application for tax exemption) within 30 days of your request. This ensures they are a registered nonprofit and also allows a glance at some of the charity's general information such as program expense breakdown, CEO salary and 

Read our guide for additional tips on how to Evaluate Charities Not Currently Rated by Charity Navigator

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Updates and Additions

October Updates and Additions

With fall a' brewing and leaves a' changing, we have updated the site with 105 newly added charity ratings and 682 charities with updated ratings.

Some interesting additions are:

Check out all the additions here.

Charities "on the move":

Moving Up

Moving Down

Legacy, broccoli and a herd of water buffalo

This is a guest post by Robb Lucy (www.yourlegacysmile.com)  who is a cancer survivor with a rich background in broadcasting, production, marketing and non-profit development. Robb has been involved with several local, national and international non-profits, and was recently awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal as co-founder of the Make-A-Wish Founda­tion in Canada and Director of MAW International. He is now writing a book designed to get people to rethink Legacy giving.

Do this little test: at a polite dinner table ask your guests ‘what will your Legacy be?’ Most will end up staring into their broccoli. No time.  The career. The kids. I’ll get to it. I’ll get to it already.

I didn’t think I’d have a Legacy either. We couldn’t have kids, so after collecting all my ‘stuff’, and with no one to give it to, I wouldn’t be able to leave a ‘Legacy’.

Then a funny thing happened. On an airplane I told my friend I was going to receive a national award for the charity work I’d done. And I just finished a book on my Father’s war experiences.  And I just finished twenty years of building a local Literacy initiative. “That’s quite a Legacy” he said. Huh? said I.

I’m one of 80 million Boomers. We’re getting old & wise enough to ask some questions. As Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Do I want to make a difference?’ ‘Do I want to leave a mark?’ ‘Do I want to feel connected to people and happy with what I’m doing and what I’ll leave behind?’

Remember Star Trek and the credo they all lived by - ‘The Prime Directive’? Picard, Data, Jordie and the others agreed there could be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations.

The prime directive in the animal world is to ensure the next generation. My wife and I started raising honey bees. Nobody works harder than our little bees to create the honey to feed them through next winter and start again. And if the Queen doesn't make it, the remaining bees make another Queen. The Prime Directive is to keep on, keepin’ on.

Our prime directive, according to the Dalai Lama, is really quite simple: ‘To be happy’ he says.

So If I want to be happier, can I combine that with ‘Legacy’? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Should You Buy that Charity Affiliated Product?

It's October and that means store shelves will be covered in pink ribbon packaging. Before you buy that product, review our tips to help you determine if your purchase will actually do anything worthwhile for the cause.