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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Charity Navigator API: Information and Ratings on Charities

This Q&A was originally posted on 3scale's website here
Charity Navigator uses 3scale to manage its API.

Sandra Miniutti, Charity Navigator API
An interview with Sandra Miniutti, Vice President of Marketing and CFO for Charity Navigator. In her role, she is responsible for all aspects of Charity Navigator’s brand, all partnerships, media relations, communications, outreach, data sales and the organization’s finances.

Tell us more about Charity Navigator API?
Charity Navigator is America’s leading independent charity evaluator. Our API has extensive information and ratings on 7,000 charities headquartered in America (but serving every country in the world). These 7,000 charities receive more than half of all private contributions made in the USA each year (not including houses of worship). Furthermore, our API also includes basic information on the remainder of the 1.6 million nonprofits registered in the U.S. We offer an API that gives developers access to all of this high-quality, comprehensive nonprofit data which can be easily integrated into any app or website.
What API(s) does Charity Navigator offer today?
We offer two levels of service with our API; basic and premium.
The basic API provides overview information on all the rated and unrated organizations in our database and is 100% free. It requires links back to the Charity Navigator website along with attribution.
The premium API is for customers looking for white label use of our extensive database. There is a fee associated with the premium API, but it provides complete access to our data and does not require linking back to our site (although attribution is still required).
When did Charity Navigator realize that it needed an API?
About two years ago, we recognized that the online world was changing and that we could have more influence if our expert analysis was readily accessible on other platforms and applications. It was also around this time that we noticed an increase in requests for our data from donor advised funds, philanthropic advisors to entrepreneurs looking to give back as their businesses grow as well as websites of all kinds that have a charity donation portal. We put our heads together with a friend of ours, Craig Newmark (the founder of Craigslist), and determined that an API would lower barriers to and expand the reach of our data. Wanting to see more givers make smarter choices, thereby driving increased social investment capital to higher performing nonprofits, Craig Newmark agreed to fund the creation of the API.
What recommendations and tips would you give to a company planning to launch an API?
As you develop the API, think about the conversations you’ve (hopefully) had with potential customers and end users and build the features that you believe they’d most want to see in your API.  And keep in mind it is a lot more work than just building the technology – you have to develop the right legal documents, tech manuals and marketing materials. And you may need to consider additional staff resources to provide adequate support to your clients.
Why and how are you using 3scale API Management Platform today?
We use 3Scale to package, manage, and distribute our API to a growing developer network. Given our small staff, using 3scale allows us to offload virtually all of the administrative duties like onboarding developers and throttling usage when necessary.
What benefits have you seen/are you expecting from your API program?
Charity Navigator is itself a charity. We expect that the API will not only expand our reach, thereby fulfilling our mission of helping donors make informed giving choices, but that it will help us generate income so we can continue to provide our services for free to donors and to the charities we rate.
What is your vision for your API?
We envision that as our API makes our data more accessible that we’ll be able to influence a greater portion of the $300 billion Americans donate annually thereby, ultimately, ensuring that the best charities have the money they need to carry out their worthy missions.

As a 501 (c) (3) organization itself, Charity Navigator depends on public support to help donors make informed choices. Please consider investing in the future of Charity Navigator by making a donation today.  Donate now >>


Unknown said...

Excuse me, but what is an API ?

Unknown said...

Hi Robert,
Here's the definition via Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface. Basically, it the technology that allows other websites and apps to pull our data into their platforms. Check out a few examples our API in action to get a better idea: http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2013/12/giving-library-to-kick-off-100000-share.html, http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2013/12/api-partner-spotlight-truist.html.