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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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Monday, April 12, 2021

Emerson College Students Create a Diverse Book Campaign for Boston Public Schools While Studying Charity Navigator's DEI Goals

Charity Navigator is committed to promoting a more equitable social sector by encouraging both nonprofits and donors to consider aspects of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in their decision-making. 

Our multifaceted approach includes evolving our ratings to assess key measures of equity, generating Hot Topics to help donors support organizations founded by diverse leaders dedicated to bridging inequities, and partnering with nonprofits to better tell the story of the unmet and often misunderstood needs that uniquely impact underserved communities. 

We’re proud to highlight On The Same Page, a campaign run by Professor Cathryn Edelstein and students enrolled in the Nonprofit Communication Management Program at Emerson College. Through the campaign, they have spearheaded an effort to provide diverse literature to Boston Public schools.

How does it feel to seldom see your identity represented in a story you read? What does it mean to your self-esteem if someone with your skin color, your family’s background, your disability, or someone that speaks your language is missing from the literature in your school’s library?  Plain and simple, “I - and my experiences - don’t matter.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Looking ahead to a second year of COVID-19 giving

Entering year two of the COVID-19 pandemic with 115 million cases worldwide (29 million in the United States) and 2.6 million deaths (nearly 525,000 in the US), it is still difficult to understand the toll this pandemic has taken on all our lives.

The pandemic continues to overwhelm health care, societal and economic infrastructures. In the US, even with a renewed focus on providing support for pandemic recovery, there is still confusion about how best to address viral spread and its downstream effects  such as mental health, economic and social unrest. Finally, there is concern on a global scale about how to ensure equitable vaccine distribution. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Restoring Earth for 2021: Locally & Globally

Earth and our efforts to conserve it are far too important to be observed on just one day. We consider all of April, Earth Month, a time to renew our focus on preserving, caring for, and honoring our planet. Earth Day’s importance has become more critical beyond one day. With a wealth of valuable information online surrounding the day, exploring its meaning, impact, and ways to get involved, we wanted to include several links here to guide your reading for Earth Day 2021.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

We’ve Been Asking the Wrong Question About Charity Compensation

All our lives we’ve been taught that one of the best questions you can ask in researching a charity is, “How much do they pay their CEO?” If the number’s low, that means they respect your donation. If the number’s high it means they don’t, and there’s something fishy going on. 

What if we’ve got it all wrong? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Women's History Month 2021 - Team Features: Meet Maggie Kurnyta

We've been celebrating Women's History Month with features of Charity Navigator's innovative female leaders. We close the month with a highlight of a member of our analyst team.

Today, we’re celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth by featuring Maggie Kurnyta

Maggie is Charity Navigator’s Program Analyst and has been with us for over three years.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Meet the Team: My Nonprofit Journey - Matthew Viola

Welcome to our new series, where each month we will introduce a member of the Charity Navigator team. Millions of visitors come to Charity Navigator annually, and they may be surprised to learn that we're a staff of 24! We often proudly state that we are a "small yet mighty team"-- achieving a lot with the resources we have, while staying focused on our mission. We are extremely honored to be a part of the nonprofit community where our footprint (and our ratings!) have expanded, and we are incredibly appreciative of the support received from our donors and users, nonprofits, and funders. We hope this series will be enlightening and entertaining.

My name is Matthew Viola, and I am Vice President of Program Analyst Operations at Charity Navigator. Currently, I have a unique and proud attribute: I am the longest tenured employee at Charity Navigator. For the past nine years, I have led the analyst team, which is a group of highly-specialized analysts who produce the star ratings, advisories, and methodology changes, and correspond directly with nonprofits and site users. It is a cohesive team that I am proud to be a part of, and one that compiles thousands of ratings and efficiently handles thousands of customer support inquiries a year. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

World Water Day: Water for South Sudan, Changing communities one well at a time

Over a year ago, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19
a pandemic. Today, on World Water Day, we are honored to share a first-hand
account of what innovation and adaptation look like during a pandemic,
and a subsequent economic crisis, from Water for South Sudan (WFSS),
a Charity Navigator 4-Star rated nonprofit.

Water for South Sudan’s (WFSS) local, sustainable work is changing lives, one well at a time. Every day, we see firsthand how access to essential clean water, hygiene, and sanitation impacts entire communities. But we never dreamed that the need would be made even more critical in the face of a global pandemic. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Women's History Month 2021 - Team Features: Meet Grace Dowd

March means we’re celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth! Throughout the month, we’ll highlight our innovative female leaders who make Charity Navigator the accomplished organization it is. 

This week, for Women's History Month, we’re featuring our Major Gifts Officer, Grace Dowd

Monday, March 15, 2021

Things you should know when choosing between standard and itemized deductions--especially if a charitable contribution was made in 2020

Deductions reduce the amount of taxable income when filing a federal income tax return. In other words, they can reduce the amount of tax someone owes.

Most taxpayers have a choice of either taking the standard deduction or itemizing their deductions. The standard deduction may be quicker and easier, but, itemizing deductions may lower taxes more, in some situations. For this reason, it's important for taxpayers to look into which deduction method is best suited for them and their family.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

How Nonprofits Can use Charity Navigator for Benchmarking, Leading to Strategic Growth

My wife and I are very intentional with our philanthropy - we consider the research and subsequent monitoring and evaluation of our philanthropic investments a part-time job. Charity Navigator has played an important role in helping us find and support deserving nonprofits. I recently wrote two articles where I outlined our giving strategy as well as how we use benchmarking to decide which nonprofits to support.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Women's History Month 2021 - Team Features: Meet Nancy Sadek

March means we’re celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth! Throughout the month, we’ll highlight our innovative female leaders who make Charity Navigator the accomplished organization it is. 

This week, we’re featuring Nancy Sadek

Monday, March 8, 2021

Celebrating International Women’s Day & National Women’s History Month

'Fearless Girl' Statue (New York City, NY)

While International Women’s Day has only been officially observed by the United Nations since 1975, its origins have long standing roots around the world. Globally, Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s. Starting in 1908, the United States saw National Women’s Day first observed in late February. This was a day designated in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike, where working conditions were protested by groups of female workers. A year later in Europe, a movement began in Copenhagen, Denmark, seeking women’s rights and to gather support for universal suffrage for women. In 1911, the first official International Women’s Day took place across Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, with over one million women and men attending rallies, seeking women’s rights to vote, work, and hold public offices.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Women's History Month 2021 - Team Features: Meet Julia Bieniek

March means we’re celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth! Throughout the month, we’ll highlight our innovative female leaders who make Charity Navigator the accomplished organization it is. 

Kicking things off is Julia Bieniek, our HR & Operations Manager. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Inside the Encompass Ratings System Culture & Community Beacon Launch

Written by Stephen Rockwell, Chief Ratings Technology Officer, and Ofira Bondorowsky,
Director of Ratings & Nonprofit Engagement, at Charity Navigator. Stephen leads
the team of charity analysts, program specialists, and development engineers
that launched the new Encompass rating methodology and criteria. Ofira facilitated
the development of Constituent Feedback measures with our partners as part of her
responsibilities to lead Charity Navigator’s engagement with nonprofit organizations.

Charity Navigator’s Encompass Rating System evolution marks another significant milestone with our Beta V3 release today. We launched Encompass last July with the intention of rapidly iterating our ratings by both adding new domains of evaluation and improving on existing domains.  Beta V3 does both:

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Boosting your visibility and funding by listening to the people you serve

People are paying more attention to how nonprofits listen to the people they serve. Leading foundations increasingly value nonprofits that have strong feedback practices. They want to support organizations that actively solicit—and act on—feedback.  Information about how specific nonprofits gather and respond to feedback is also becoming more visible to individual donors every day. What does this emphasis on feedback mean for your nonprofit?

Monday, February 22, 2021

Donor Perspective: Leveraging Charity Navigator to Benchmark deserving nonprofits

This is a follow up to the blog posted on December 8, 2020: "Donor Perspective: Leveraging Charity Navigator to find and support deserving nonprofits.”  

Charity Navigator has played an important role in my philanthropic planning -- my wife and I use their ratings to surface fiscally responsible and effective charities for consideration. With so many different organizations to consider supporting, we’ve found benchmarking an important step in selecting the right charity to make an investment in.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Battle to be Heard: Preserving the Native American Vote

The civil unrest of 2020 has emboldened Charity Navigator’s commitment to promoting a more equitable social sector by encouraging both organizations
 and donors to consider aspects of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
in their decision-making. 

Our multifaceted approach includes evolving our ratings to assess key measures of equity, generating Hot Topics to help you Give with Confidence to organizations that are founded by diverse leaders who are dedicated to bridging inequities, and partnering with leading foundations to better tell the story of the unmet and often misunderstood needs that uniquely impact underserved communities. 

Today, we are honored to share a post from the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), an organization that for over 50 years has been providing specialized legal
assistance to Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide.

Last year, the nation was focused on voting and election integrity. A dramatic election, during a worldwide pandemic, raised a host of novel issues. We also know from history that civil rights often come under threat during times of crisis. The most vulnerable populations being the first to suffer. For all of these reasons, we at the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) were especially focused on protecting Native voting rights during the 2020 elections. However, fighting for Native enfranchisement and equity is in no way new. Native peoples have always faced obstacles to participating in non-tribal politics. NARF is committed to making sure their voices are heard. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

#LoveACharity: Giving Nonprofits a Little Valentine’s Day Love

Another year means another Valentine’s Day is on its way. No matter how you celebrate the holiday, whether you’re exchanging sweets and greeting cards or simple “I love yous”, it’s a time to show the important ones in your life a little extra love.

Monday, February 8, 2021

In Challenging Times, Channeling Negative Emotions into Impactful Giving

What drives someone to give? While it’s safe to say that many associate the primary force behind donating comes from a positive place, that may not always be true. Many times, the initial spark of desire to donate originates from somewhere else. Maybe we read something or saw something online that angered, scared, or made us feel overwhelming sadness. These feelings are what forces us to realize that something must change. It’s these emotions that deeply impact us and sometimes propels us to act.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Why Give Black?

Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation

Americans gave away more money in 2019 than ever before: $450 billion to causes they believe in. That’s a wonderful thing. 2020 looks good too. $11.4 billion was donated to the fight against COVID-19, for instance, and $7.6 billion went toward racial equity. A recent survey reports that 25 percent of donors say they’ll give even more this year.

Monday, January 25, 2021

A holiday season unlike any other: Responding to needs during COVID-19 and making an impact to the community with our clients

2020 will go down in history as one of the most significant years that the world has seen. When we started the year, nobody would have imagined that the world would come to a halt overnight, yet that’s exactly what happened. We witnessed something that we’ve never seen before. The Coronavirus spread through countries and continents faster than we could have thought with waves of lockdowns and travel restrictions that left businesses paralyzed and millions unemployed.

Nothing about 2020 was normal.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Generosity: A Resolution Worth Keeping

With a few short hours to go before New Year’s Eve, you remember that you were supposed to make a resolution for the new year. You quickly think through all of the possibilities: "What's something I can easily keep up with while simultaneously promising to set my year on a meaningful and productive course? Exercise? Drink less coffee? Read more? Spend less?"

Inevitably, you’ll land on something you are bound to abandon by the end of January.

Even if you have not yet made a resolution this year, but have a desire to do so, take some time to consider how you have benefited from others’ generosity. Then, think about how you can pay things forward in 2021.

Here are a few tips to get you started in making and keeping resolutions for yourself:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

How Working Capital Protects Nonprofits from Rainy Days


The term working capital has been used in the for-profit industry for a long time. It is usually defined as the difference between a company’s current assets and its current liabilities. It is traditionally used as a liquidity metric in the form of a dollar amount. In addition, many individual financial plans include having a savings account, often referred to as “rainy day funds”, to be used when the “storm” comes.  Many have also likely heard the old adage of putting aside funds to cover at least 3-6 months of living expenses for emergencies (loss of job, unexpected expenses, etc.). 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Continuing a Shared Love of Generosity

My wife grew up poor. Her father was killed in a tragic accident when she was a toddler. She always said, “If my mother hadn’t run welfare in our small Montana town, we would have been on it.” We met in the air over the Pacific in 1985. She was returning from back-to-back Air Force tours as a mental health therapist in Korea and the Philippines. Lynnette was headed for a small clinic in Texas and I was going to take a Tropical Medicine course. We chatted, never expecting to see each other again, but in 1986 re-met at our thousand-bed medical center in San Antonio and married two years later. At dinner that week she said, “Peter, I’m a Lt Colonel; you’re a full bird. We can easily live on one salary and give the rest away to help our community.”

Monday, January 4, 2021

Reflections on 2020 as we move forward into 2021: A message from Michael Thatcher, President & CEO, Charity Navigator


Dear friends of Charity Navigator,

The year 2020 had a way of stripping away all that was not essential in our lives, our work and our giving. While no one could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, it is extremely heartening that millions of people stepped up more than ever before, to support the causes close to their hearts in their efforts to make things better for others and our world.  Giving was essential in 2020.  Charity Navigator was an essential tool of choice for many in their giving decisions this year.  Our work matters.  If you are reading this, it’s safe to assume that you use Charity Navigator and maybe even support us directly. Thank you for your generosity and investments in us and through us in 2020.  Although we are still very much in the midst of the pandemic, your generosity makes a difference.