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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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Friday, September 5, 2014

Tonight's Fundraising Telecast

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a program of the 4-star rated Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), will air tonight at 8 pm ET on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and many more stations. The program promises performances from recording artists and celebrities from film and television as well as "powerful stories of remarkable progress being made by SU2C-funded research." 

The show may inspire you to donate to EIF or another one of the many cancer related charities. But whichever charity you choose, be sure to do your homework first to:
  • Ensure the charity is doing the type of work you want to support. Remember, just because a charity has 'cancer' in its name, doesn't mean it is funding cancer research or even funding the type of cancer research that you are most concerned about. There are cancer related charities that are focused on advocacy, awareness and patient services as well as those devoted to research. Be sure to review charity's website or give the organization a direct call so that you are clear about the work it does before you write that check.
  • Ensure the charity is financially strong, ethical and effective. Before you give to any charity, not just a cancer related charity, be sure to check that the charity meets these three criteria.
    1. Fiscal Health: Financially healthy organizations – those that are both financially efficient and sustainable - have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission.  Charity Navigator’s 0 to 4- star rating system  includes a review of each charity’s fiscal performance. And if we don't rate the charity that is of interest to you, then you'll still be able to find basic information about it on our site as well as tips on how you can conduct your own financial analysis.
    2. Accountable & Transparent: Generally speaking, charities that are accountable follow good governance practices and are therefore less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities so, the risk that charities would misuse donations is lower than for charities that don't adopt such practices.  In addition, an organization that is transparent will share its performance openly with the public. Therefore all stakeholders can investigate the details of the charity's work without having to struggle for access to the information. If a charity is doing good work, then it should have nothing to hide. As the saying goes, "sunlight is the best disinfectant!" An analysis of each charity's Accountability & Transparency is included in Charity Navigator's 0 to 4-star rating system.
    3. Results: Knowing what the charity has accomplished is a critical step; after all, the charity’s ability to bring about long lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and what you want your donation to be used for.  Charity Navigator has begun to provide a review of each charity’s results reporting, but this data will not impact any charity's rating until we have the data for all of the charities we rate.  In the meantime, you can learn about a charity’s results by reviewing its website and/or talking with staff.  They should be able to tell you more than just the number of activities or people served and speak to the quality and depth of their results as well as their capacity to continue to get these results.
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