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.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Intelligent Giving: Know Where the Money Goes

When selecting a charity to donate to, it’s key to look at where the money’s going. Some breast cancer charities focus on research, some provide medical services, while some educate and advocate. Programs like these are all important to the fight against breast cancer, but it’s imperative to know which type of program (or combination of programs) you want to support this October, and all year round.

When you visit a charity’s profile on Charity Navigator’s website, simply click into the programs tab to see what kinds of programs an organization is running, and how much money  they allocate to those programs. Focusing on breast cancer charities demonstrates how large the variety of programs within a cause area can be.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, for example, allocates all of its program expenses to research grants.  The Rose provides a variety of direct medical services for women, focusing on both prevention and treatment. The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides diagnostic breast care services (spending 44.1% on this program) and it also pays attention to educational and awareness materials (spending 46.6% on this program). All of these charities have received four star ratings from Charity Navigator, which shows that they exceed industry standards and outperform most breast cancer charities. What’s imperative here is knowing what kinds of programs you want to support.

Our website does this research for you, making it extremely easy for you to give intelligently. Use our Hot Topic, Charities Working to Prevent and Cure Breast Cancer as a starting place to decide which breast cancer charities you want to support!

Thinking about supporting a breast cancer charity by buying that pink ribbon item? Think again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yogi Berra's Charitable Work

Monument Park: 5/24/2015

Photo credit: Arturo Pardavila III

Yogi Berra, a former New York Yankee and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, passed away  on September 22nd at the age of 90. Known for memorable quotes such as “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” he spent over half a century living in Montclair, New Jersey, becoming deeply involved with local charity work, including the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, located on the Montclair State University campus. For many years, Yogi and his late wife, Carmen, hosted a Celebrity Golf Tournament to raise money for the museum which, in addition to being a sports museum, runs sports-based character and leadership development programs for students, partnering with local high schools and their athletes. The Berras explained that they engaged in charity work so “everyone in America can be what they want to be.” 

Before playing professional baseball, an eighteen-year-old Yogi Berra joined the Navy during World War II, eventually serving on a ship supporting the storming of Omaha Beach on D-Day. If you are interested in donating to charity to support our troops in honor of Yogi and his service, please click here to see our article highlighting these organizations.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Help Chile Earthquake Survivors

On September 16, 2015, a powerful, 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit just off the coast of Chile, about 145 miles from Santiago, Chile's largest city. The quake caused a 15-foot tsunami along the Chilean coast and landslides in the hilly areas of the region. As a result, 1 million people have been evacuated and at least eight have died. Initial reports also indicate that many homes and buildings have been damaged and destroyed by the quake, especially in the the city of Illapel. Meanwhile, electricity and cell phone service is out for hundreds of thousands of people.

While several relief charities are monitoring the situation to determine if and how they can help, we are aware of one charity that is already collecting funds. The charity, GlobalGiving, has set up a fund to provide emergency medical aid to Chile. If you are interested in learning more, then we encourage you to review our rating for GlobalGiving and then visit their site for more specifics on how they're helping.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Devastation in Lake County, California: How can you help?

by Brittany Delaney, Associate Program Analyst

With one of the worst droughts in California’s history, some of the worst wildfires are now sweeping the northern part of the state. Thousands of residents have been greatly impacted and are in a state of panic and sorrow wondering what their next steps will be. Where will they sleep? How will they eat? Will they have to rebuild their lives from the ground up? With the drought being one of the main causes for the start of the fires, there have been other negative weather related impacts making the fires spread quickly and aggressively. Dozens of firefighters are working around the clock to contain the fires. There are many local churches and schools that have set up temporary shelters for those who have either lost their homes or who have had to take part in mandatory evacuations.

Luckily, there is one major charity currently taking all donations and directing the funds towards those affected by the aftermath of the Lake County wildfires. Starting from September 14 through September 30, The United Way of the Wine Country is taking all donations made during this time period and helping those affected by the fires. With your help, the devastation and true sadness hovering over these communities might have a chance of being uplifted by the help of others. 

Tips for Giving at Work

Each year, billions of dollars are donated to America’s charities through workplace giving campaigns. Chances are that if you work at a corporation or for the federal government, you’ve had the opportunity to participate in one of these programs. 

While workplace giving was designed to improve America’s charities’ efficiencies, benefits exist for both the employee and participating charity. For the employee, these programs offer the convenience of automatic payroll deductions without losing the tax benefits of charitable giving. Since employers often match employee contributions, workplace giving provides the employee with the opportunity to directly influence their company’s philanthropic endeavors. For the charity, even a small pledge from an employee makes an impact when it is increased by the employer’s matching funds.

If you are considering participating in a workplace giving campaign, then we encourage you to visit our site and review our 6 tips. We offer a detailed and condensed version of our guide.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 Funds

September 11th
On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States of America killing and injuring thousands. Horrified and compassionate Americans across the country subsequently donated $2.2 billion to various charities that had quickly set up 9/11-related funds. 

Under pressure from the media, politicians and donors, the majority of this money was spent within a year of the attacks. However, some charities wisely withheld a portion of the money they raised so that they could continue to fund memorial projects, mental and health-care services, and scholarships into the future. At least two highly-rated charities, Scholarship America and GlobalGiving, continue to provide 9/11-related programs and services.   

Facts related to 9/11:
  • 20% of Americans knew someone hurt or killed on 9/11. 
  • Around 36,000 units of blood were donated to the New York Blood Center, but only 258 were used. 
  • The IRS fast-tracked the approval of 300 new 9/11 related charities. By 2006, 1/3 couldn't be located and 38 had closed. 
  • The fires burned for almost 100 days after the attack. 
  • Around 1,300 corporations and foundations made 9/11 related donations accounting for nearly 40% of all donations. 
  • 2,992 people died in the attacks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Volunteering and Historic Preservation

by Erin White, Associate Program Analyst

In its most common form, volunteer tourism (or “voluntourism”) finds mostly young people travelling to the developing world to assist in a variety of projects, from working in orphanages to digging wells for clean drinking water. The phenomenon has exploded, with numerous companies offering volunteer opportunities across the globe. Closer to home, however, one organization has a slightly different angle on this industry.

HistoriCorps, a nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado, engages volunteers to work on historic preservation projects on both public and private land here in the United States. They partner with government agencies such as the US Forest Service as well as historical preservation organizations to arrange trips for volunteers to help improve or maintain historic sites across the country. Projects last for weeks or months, broken down into short sessions to allow volunteers to make the most of their time. HistoriCorps’ executive director, Townsend Anderson, explains, “It has really become a gateway, if you will, that historic preservation has never had before. It is introducing many non-preservationists to historic preservation. HistoriCorps has offered, for me, the best opportunity I have had to teach a preservation ethic.”

Direct, hands on preservation work may not appeal to everyone, but many preservation organizations accept donations to support their work. If you’re interested in finding out about the variety of nonprofit organizations working to preserve historic sites and landmarks, you can find our list of organizations here. Using our advanced search feature, you can even filter to find locations close to you, or find sites on your must-visit list!