Posts Tagged ‘Charity Navigator’

Giving Tuesday | Be Thoughtfully Strategic

pexels-photoYou likely already know that today is Giving Tuesday, designed as a respite for all that spending we do on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Today is a great time, at the end of year (important for tax deductions) and in the spirit of the season, to do a big portion of your annual giving and support of non-profits and charitable organizations.

Be sure you know and understand the mission and purpose of the organizations you support. Many of us have gotten into a habit of giving to the large organizations with broad name recognition, because we assume they do the best, most potent work. Often, this is thinking that is sadly off target. Some of the best known are the least efficient at service, with huge advertising and fundraising budgets, bloated executive director salaries, and more energy put into sustaining the company than in fulfilling the mission.

Check out your cause or foundation in the database of an impartial third party reviewer, like Charity Navigator. If you discover your favorite charity is not doing the work you thought they were, don’t get discouraged about giving, just know that there are others in the same space, serving the same mission, who run a little more leanly and effectively and could put your dollars to better use. Here is a great resource list of the Highest Rated and Lowest Rated Charities by Cause compiled by Charity Navigator.

Giving Tuesday is an important and highly visible campaign to create a NATIONAL DAY OF GIVING at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations. We had our day for giving thanks, a few days for getting deals, now it’s a day for giving back. It’s not just big organizations that are behind it, small, grassroots charities drive the engagement and power behind the movement. There are #GivingTuesday campaigns in countries all around the world, with thousands of partners with special initiatives and projects tied to this day, so it is super easy for you to get involved. Choose your favorite cause and give: time, money, both (or a commitment to show up and volunteer soon)…then spread the word…be audacious and vocal about your good deeds, it will inspire others. If you let the rest of us know what inspires you most and who you support, it helps us discover new gems we might embrace in our own charitable giving–and THAT is how you spread a movement!


Keep your eyes peeled this time of year for programs that allow you to give or give extra or match your donations with no effort or extra outlay from you. For instance, when online shopping at Amazon, if you simply log in by typing you will go through their charity portal. Choose your charity and every eligible purchase you make will automatically generate a donation to your cause, without raising your price or requiring extra effort. Here is a blog post with more detail.

Check Your Charities, Then GIVE

678948_33343200SO there are all sorts of philanthropic pitfalls and landmines out there, difficult to navigate at times…when you think you are giving to a good cause but the money goes to something beyond what you bargained for, and perhaps something in which you don’t believe or can’t support (hello Salvation Army!)

Since so many of us have the holiday spirit of giving front and center these days, and perhaps a few more of us are thinking ahead to April 15 and want to be sure we get charitable donations handled for the tax season…be sure you know where your hard-earned dollars are going. Use a little filtering before you hit SEND on your computer, or sign that check (if anyone still has checks), or drop your change into the bell ringer’s bucket.

Use charity evaluation agencies who oversee the publicly required reports and practices of non-profit and charitable organizations, and give ratings based on their criteria (not all agencies share the same categories for their report cards…it can’t hurt to cross-reference). Make sure you feel good about doing good, this year and every year.

Find a great list of websites after the jump to help you make these important decisions… Continue reading

Your Giving and Crisis Response in Japan


Our instinct to reach out and help in times of crisis, like in the aftermath of today’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan, is laudable, but can result in misdirected and wasted money. Charity Navigator, the non-partisan survey of charitable organizations that rates them on effectiveness and transparency, has a list of ways to target your donations.

Some of the tips include:

*Avoid Newly-Formed Charities and give to an established organization that has worked in Japan.

*Designate Your Investment–specifically for earthquake relief in Japan.

*Do Not Send Supplies–systems will not yet be in place to appropriately receive and distribute them.

*Beware E-mail Solicitations.

*Think Before you Text–texting seems easy, but funds don’t always go where you wish they would…do your homework.

Some of the highest rated charities who are ready to respond and already moving into action in Japan are:





Charity Navigator

There is such a huge array of non-profit organizations and charities, each of which desperately needs volunteers and donations, but it can be awfully hard to determine where you can invest your dollars and/or hours most wisely. Anyone can build a website and call themselves charitable. In the United States, a 501(c)(3) company has gone through the necessary steps to be registered and recognized as a non-profit organization (and your donations and volunteer time are most often tax-deductible to these charities).

Non-profit status is not the only benchmark for validity, and there are some for-profit organizations, or newer ones that have not yet been granted non-profit status, that do amazing work. For over 5,000 charities registered in the United States, there is a terrific resource to help you navigate the philanthropic terrain out there. Charity Navigator is a website that allows you to look up the history of a charity’s giving and their effectiveness. Charity Navigator’s rating system examines two broad areas of a charity’s financial health — how responsibly it functions day to day as well as how well positioned it is to sustain its programs over time. Each charity is then awarded an overall rating, ranging from zero to four stars. To help donors avoid becoming victims of mailing-list appeals, each charity’s commitment to keeping donors’ personal information confidential is assessed. The site is easily navigable by charity name, location, or type of activity and also features opinion pieces by Charity Navigator experts, donation tips, and top-10 and bottom-10 lists that rank efficient and inefficient organizations in a number of categories.

There are plenty of tools to help you vet an organization that has inspired you, and this is a great tool to have in your box. Always make sure you know where your hard-earned dollars and even harder to come by hours are going, and that it makes you proud to be giving.