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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.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Understanding the Charity Navigator Advisory System


Have you come across a yellow, orange, or red Charity Navigator Advisory System seal while using our website to research a charity? Did you know what it meant? Today we’re breaking it down to help you better understand our Advisory System, how a charity gets added to our advisory list, and what that means to you, as a donor. 



Charity Navigator was founded to help donors, like you, give confidently. Our goal is to make it easy to identify high-performing charities who will use your donation to do the most good for the causes you care about. We do this by aggregating and evaluating the data charities provide to the IRS on their Forms 990 and the information publicly available on their sites, and turning into a zero to four star rating.

Our ratings represent the the data and information we believe is essential to making an informed giving decision. From time to time, however, we come across information about a charity that we feel donors should have access to before donating. Most often this it is related to a charity’s behavior and has been published by a mainstream media outlet. 

In these instances, Charity Navigator’s Advisory Issuance Committee meets and votes to determine whether or not the allegations warrant placing an advisory and use our advisory rubric to determine the advisory level (low, medium, high). Below is more information about what each seal means.

Low-Level Advisories (Yellow)

An organization may receive a low-level advisory if a mainstream media outlet reports on credible allegations of improper conduct or operations; it is affiliated with an organization that has received a moderate- or high-level advisory; or it has lost state or federal funding because of alleged misconduct.

Organizations with low-level advisories will keep their rating while the advisory is active.

Moderate-Level Advisories (Orange)

An organization may receive a moderate-level advisory if there are unconfirmed reports of fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy, or any type of abuse; there is receipt of an incomplete or inaccurate IRS Form 990 and the organization has not provided an adequate explanation; or its audit contains a qualified opinion and/or an “Emphasis of Matter Regarding a Going Concern.”

Organizations with moderate-level advisories will have their rating removed while the advisory is active.

High-Level Advisories (Red)

An organization may receive a high-level advisory if its IRS status cannot be confirmed and it’s soliciting funds from the public; or there are confirmed reports of fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy, or any type of abuse.

Organizations with high-level advisories will have their rating removed while the advisory is active.

You can find more information about Charity Navigator’s Advisory System and how organizations can have their advisories removed on our website.

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