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, March 23, 2018

How Charity Navigator Became America's Trusted Guide to Giving


Each year, millions of Americans use Charity Navigator to research charities before donating so they can give confidently knowing their gifts will be well spent. Today we’re sharing the story of how Charity Navigator came to be and how it’s grown into America’s leading, independent charity evaluator.



Charity Navigator was founded by Pat and Marion Dugan in 2001. After taking their company public, Pat and Marion were looking for high-performing charities to invest in that were working to tackle some of our world’s most persistent challenges. At that time, however, several large, well-known charities were tangled up in scandal and there were no resources available to help donors evaluate and compare organizations. So, they set out to fix the problem.

After surveying the charitable landscape and realizing there were no tools or resources available to donors to help them understand how charities operated and where their going donations were going, Pat and Marion founded Charity Navigator to be the “Consumer Reports for charitable giving.” They envisioned a resource that would help donors understand how a charity was spending its money so they could give generously and confidently to the causes they care about.

Charity Navigator was started out of a small office in New Jersey with a few accounting minds and technology brains who created the first iteration of our rating methodology and built a website to publish it on. At first, we looked solely at an organization’s financial health and requested Forms 990 and documentation from the charities directly. From there, we began receiving Form 990s directly from the IRS, which enabled us to rate even more charities. 

After a few years, we launched CN 2.0 and created a new methodology for evaluating charities’ accountability and transparency practices. The financial health methodology coupled with the accountability and transparency methodology is the foundation for our current two-dimensional ratings. Over time, we have made minor adjustments to each methodology to reflect and account for changes in charitable policy and industry best practices.

In November, through a partnership with Classy, GlobalGiving, and Guidestar, we added impact reports to our 2,500 charities’ rating profiles. While this information is not currently factored into an organization’s rating, it does offer donors more information about the work the charity is doing and how they are using their donors’ gifts.

Learn more about our history and major milestones here.

So, how did Charity Navigator become America’s trusted guide to giving?

Since our founding in 2001, Charity Navigator has earned a reputation for being a reliable and unbiased resource that empowers donors to give confidently to high-performing charities. We have consistently added more charity evaluations to our website each year, and continue to offer additional tools to help donors make more informed, giving decisions.

Following a disaster, we are sought after by the media to guide donors to organizations that will use their gifts to respond quickly and effectively. For example, following the series of devastating hurricanes in 2017, Charity Navigator was referenced by more than 1,000 media outlets.

And, we have grown our services to include the Giving Basket, which allows donors to process gifts to multiple organizations in one, easy checkout.

These are just a few of the many reasons Charity Navigator has become America’s trusted guide to giving. Do you use Charity Navigator? If so, what brought you to our service? And, have you recommended us to a friend? Comment below!

1 comment:

Wendy Martin said...

Thank you very much for all your hard work, it is much appreciated as I wanted to know how much these people make and it's a real eye-opener to see that these CEO's make over $100,000 and more and then beg for money pleading poverty. Every time now that I send them a little I will remind them.

Thanks again, so much appreciated...!!