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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Meet the Team: My Nonprofit Journey - Tyler Stahl

Welcome to our Meet The Team series, where each month we will introduce a member of the Charity Navigator team to our readers. 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. Click here for other profiles.

My name is Tyler Stahl, and I am a Front End Web Developer at Charity Navigator.  In tech jargon, “front end” refers to everything viewable by you, the user of Charity Navigator’s web services, while “back end” refers to the databases, rating calculations and infrastructure that power the front end. This means that I manage our website, from star rating pages, to the Giving Basket, to charity search results. Over the past year, I am proud to have helped bring the vision of the new Encompass Rating System to your screens, extending ratings to tens of thousands of previously unrated organizations.

I have been with Charity Navigator for two years, and I have been in the nonprofit sector...also for two years! I am a career transitioner, pivoting from customer relationships in the luxury retail industry (previously with Apple and Volvo). Four years ago, I decided to take a chance on my long-term hobby of computers and coding and hang my shingle as a small business website developer. Around the same time, I received a scholarship from Google to the front end web developer “nanodegree” training program at Udacity--one of the largest online learning platforms in the country. This nine month program gave me the skills and confidence to look for work as a web developer.

Confession time: I did not seek out work at Charity Navigator specifically, or the nonprofit sector. I explored tech sector opportunities everywhere from local marketing firms to CNBC Universal, when I came across the opening at Charity Navigator. This brought back a memory of working as an AmeriCorps volunteer during my first year out of college, coordinating student service projects, such as spring break service trips, high school enrichment, and Dartmouth’s response to Hurricane Katrina. This work felt very meaningful to me, but my path soon pointed away from nonprofit work--and, in a way, I’m glad it did. In the for-profit sector, I learned about branding, customer service, and translating product features into benefits for the individual user. The skills developed in the for-profit sector are often needed in the nonprofit sector--and vice versa. Spending time in one sector enriches your skillset when moving into the other.

I am glad to have been at Charity Navigator during the COVID pandemic. This has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, and it has been easy to become overwhelmed, discouraged and exhausted. But, at Charity Navigator, I have had a front row seat to a truly uplifting development: even with all of the hardship and bad news of 2020, donations to charities through our Giving Basket actually increased! To think that people across the country going through such turbulent times did not turn inward, isolate and hoard their reduced resources, but instead gave more than ever before to help those in need. This helped me keep my hopes up, and elevated my belief in what is possible from the human spirit.

People find meaning in lots of ways, and it’s completely fine for a job to be just a job. But, at Charity Navigator, I am almost daily reminded of a saying I have heard: “Rather than define the non-profit sector by what it is NOT, try defining it by what it IS: ‘the For-Impact Sector.’ ” My work has a positive impact on the world, and it lets the world have a positive impact on me, and for both, I am grateful.

Written by Tyler Stahl, Front End Web Developer at Charity Navigator.

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