As their name suggests, Charity Navigator—an online resource where anyone can tap into a database of 501(c)(3)s to learn about specific organizations and guide their giving decisions—has been a force for charitable giving. In its 18 years of existence, Charity Navigator has facilitated $91 million in donations. Their site has averaged 10 million annual visits and has more than 900,000 registered users.
Charity Navigator: A Nonprofit for Everyone
What is Charity Navigator?
Charity Navigator is America’s largest nonprofit charity evaluator, helping people make decisions about what nonprofits they might want to donate to, which ones are making the most valuable impacts, which ones are being ethical and transparent with their work and fundraising, and more.
It was developed after the organization’s founders, Pat and Marion Dugan, came across reports of scandals at local and national charities. Looking to create an unbiased source of information for charitable givers and investors, the pair developed a free service documenting the ethical and financial health of charities across the nation.
Using set criteria to grade nonprofit organizations, Charity Navigator was designed to make impactful philanthropy easier for all. In 2018, American donors gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities, and Charity Navigator is working to make sure that these donations go to the best source.
What does Charity Navigator do?
Charity Navigator “grades” charitable organizations to help people ensure their donations are going to the right place and being put to the best use. Users just have to log onto Charity Navigator’s site, and search for the nonprofit they want to look into. Over 9000 “graded” nonprofits are currently in their database for review.
Charity Navigator’s rating system examines two areas of a charity’s performance:
- Financial Health: Based on the financial information that each charity provides in its tax return, Charity Navigator uses seven key areas to create a final score of ‘Financial Health.’
- Accountability and Transparency: Looking at a foundation’s reported tax information and data collected from the charity’s website, Charity Navigator uses seventeen areas of focus to determine information and data made available.
Once a score from 1-100 is determined for each of the two categories, the charity’s overall score is reflective of the distance between the two rankings. The smaller the difference, the better the score. The final score, reaching from one to four stars, shows how responsibly a charity will use the support they receive.
How to Use Charity Navigator
To use Charity Navigator, anyone can search by charity using organization names or keywords via a smart search engine. You can also use the ‘Filter Your Search Results’ function to filter by category, state, rating, size, and scope of a charity’s work. The advanced search tool can be used to find other charities that match your particular philanthropic interests.
If Charity Navigator hasn’t rated the nonprofit you are looking for, the website still provides basic information about the institution. Additionally, once you are a registered user of Charity Navigator, you can recommend charities that meet the criteria for evaluation.
Why Support Charity Navigator?
Supporting Charity Navigator helps keep nonprofits accountable. In part, your donations help ensure that more nonprofit evaluations can take place, that the evaluations continue to be thorough, and that the site itself can continue growing by affording technical maintenance and paying for ever-increasing server costs.
More importantly, your support helps increase trust among donors and potential donors, which helps improve fundraising efforts overall, which helps the nonprofits we rely on to change and protect our world expand their reach.
More information about Charity Navigator’s financials and policies can be found on their website.
How to Support Charity Navigator
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