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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.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Holiday Giving Checklist

Charity Navigator Holiday Infographic
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks and Giving Back

Thanksgiving is the time of year that we all think about what we have to be grateful for and consider how we can help those who are less fortunate. If you feel inspired to give back, then Charity Navigator can help you find a charity to support. Check out our Advanced Search to find a charity that matches your philanthropic passions and give via our Giving Basket now.

In the Words of a 4-Star Charity

The following is a message from the CEO of a 4-star charity regarding the importance of rating highly on Charity Navigator.

"As a charity that participates in #GivingTuesday, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention knows firsthand the value of a good rating on Charity Navigator. There are so many worthy causes in need of support, donors know they can turn to a trusted institution like Charity Navigator to help them evaluate the organizations.

People who participate in #GivingTuesday don’t have the time to research all the non-profits who ask them for support, so Charity Navigator helps donors identify organizations who invest their donations wisely. 

We have found that our high Charity Navigator rating sets us apart and helps us stand out as a leader among many worthwhile causes." ~ Bob Gebbia, CEO of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

You can give to this charity on #GivingTuesday on Charity Navigator via our new Giving Basket. Learn more now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Best #UNSelfie Challenge Yet!

One of Charity Navigator's users just sent us this photo to show us how he and his wife are celebrating #GivingTuesday

Basically, they are challenging their Facebook friends to support a Health, Human Services or Animal Welfare 4-star charity. If they do, he'll match their donation --- up to $10,000! 

Yes, this couple is to be commended for their generosity! But what impresses me most is that they are also giving the gift of informed giving to their friends and family. Not only are they helping to ensure that their combined donations go to worthy charities, but they're also helping the people they care about learn what intelligent giving is all about. 

Next Tuesday is #GivingTuesday!

What is #GivingTuesday exactly? It’s a national movement during the holidays dedicated to charitable giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping. The goal of #GivingTuesday is to encourage people everywhere including retailers, charities, online organizations, community centers, individuals and families to come together with one common purpose -- to help others and incentivize ways to give more, give smarter (Charity Navigator is here to help you vet charities), and celebrate the great American spirit of generosity through charitable contributions and volunteerism.

Find out more about #GivingTuesday and how Charity Navigator can help you give smarter!

Friday, November 20, 2015

National Homeless Awareness Month: Homes for Those who Protect Ours

It's a fortuitous coincidence that Veteran's Day takes place during National Homeless Awareness Month.  According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless.  In 2014, that meant that between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans were homeless. Many factors contribute to this reality, such as lack of income, combat-related health issues and disabilities, and lack of services.

There are a large number of organizations dedicated to serving veterans in various capacities. To determine whether or not a charity is specifically working to alleviate veteran homelessness, be sure to review their programs. Homes for Our Troops  builds accessible homes for severely injured veterans, allowing them to focus on their recovery. The New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) houses approximately 350 veterans and offers an array services to help them successfully reintegrate into independent living.

Some veterans organizations help alleviate homelessness by preventing its occurrence. The Semper Fi Fund (SFF) provides financial assistance to veterans who have fallen behind on their housing payments to keep them out of homelessness. The USO Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore provides emergency housing to military service members for up to 60 days at no cost to the beneficiary, providing military families with the opportunity to regroup and transition back into independent living.

All of the above organizations are serving homeless veterans in exemplary ways. When deciding to give to this cause, or others, be sure to look at the programs and services that a charity provides! 

Interested in volunteering with these organizations? Check out our Guide to Volunteering

Has This Ever Happened To You?

You make a small donation to one charity and suddenly tons of other charities are sending you solicitations. That's because the first charity shared/traded/sold your contact information with other charities.

One way to prevent that is by giving anonymously to any charity via Charity Navigator's new Giving Basket.

Get started giving anonymously now!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day 2015: Honoring All Who Served

Veterans Day, November 11th, is an annual celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism and sacrifice. And there many ways in which you can commemorate this holiday such as:

Help Set the Table for Those in Need

If the holidays have inspired you to help the less fortunate, then review our tips on how to identify a well-run charity that provides holiday meals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Charity Navigator Helps Donors Keep Track of All their Donations

Charitable giving not only makes a difference to those in need, but it can also save you money at tax time - that is if you have the proper documentation. Use Charity Navigator's new Giving Basket to keep a record of all your donations in one place, thereby making it a snap to get the maximum deductions you deserve.

Visit Charity Navigator's site to learn more about the documentation required to deduct your charitable giving. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Car Donations: the Charity, You, and the Third Party

Non-monetary gifts are a common route donors take to give to the charities they support. Donations of food and clothing to various charities are relatively typical, but what about vehicles? Each year, a large amount of Americans choose to donate their cars, boats, and RVs to charity. At surface level, it seems like a pretty good idea, especially if your vehicle isn’t running. You call the charity, they tow it away, and your work is done.      

Unlike a donation of food or clothing, you and the charity are not usually the only parties involved in processing car donations. An overwhelming majority of charities who accept vehicle donations process these gifts through a third party for a fee. Whether or not a third party is involved is not always clear to the donor throughout the transaction process. It is often challenging to find out what payment the third party receives for selling the vehicle. That amount can be shockingly large.

In past years, if you wanted to donate your car to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you would do so through Wheels for Wishes, an organization that has recently been placed on CN’s Watchlist. Wheels for Wishes is an alternate business name of the Car Donation Foundation, which recently underwent investigation by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. According to the report released by Attorney General Swanson, the Car Donation Foundation gives between 18-22% of its gross revenue to charitable causes. Its gross revenue over the past four years totaled over $108 million.

Make-A-Wish Foundation has since entered into contract with a new organization that guarantees at least 70% of the value of vehicle will go directly to the charity you donate. 70% is a fantastic improvement from 18-22%, but it still might be unsettling to donors who believed that their entire donation is going to charity.

If your primary motivation in donating a car, boat, or RV is charitable giving, you have two solid options. The first is to sell the car yourself and donate the profit. This is the only way to be truly certain that your entire donation is going to the organization of your choice. The second is to call organizations in your area and ask them if they could use a car. Often times, charities need cars for transportation and will use it for charitable work instead of selling it.

Check out our Guide to Donating Your Car for more information.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Getting the most out of your donation dollar

Believe it or not, the year-end charitable giving season is right around the corner. The following TV segment, by Dan Spindle, of ABC15, in Arizona, offers tips for how you can make sure your donations are put to good use. For more detailed tips, consult Charity Navigator's Holiday Giving Checklist.