Charity Navigator

Rating: 3.33 stars   21 reviews

Issues: Human Services, Philanthropy

Location: 139 Harristown Road Suite 201 Glen Rock NJ 07452 USA

Mission: Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator has become the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. In our quest to help donors, our team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents. As a result, we know as much about the true fiscal operations of charities as anyone. We’ve used this knowledge to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess the financial health of 5,500 of America’s best-known charities.
Results: Information about our effectiveness and results can be found on our website: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1113.
Geographic areas served: national
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Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

I find it strange that That this company says it was incorporated into 2000 yet your Filings with the IRS only started in 2009. the total amount of revenue since it started it says it's a little over 1.3 million and a and that your expenses are 1.1 million. I know that nonprofit companies do not take extra profit and by saying so, employees take their fair pay for hours worked, but the usual greedy corporate hierarchy in nonprofit companies donates the profit after expenses paid. Looking at your numbers, and assumeing the approximate $200 000 revenue was used to pay employee wages, is absolutely confusing and seemingly fraudlant. It shows that two hundred thousand dollars was all the extra revenue in a total of 13 years?!? I find that very hard believe. There something very strange about your numbers and what is really so. $200,000 in 13 years is barely enough to feed one person, nevermind a CEO and a huge list of employees. Either you are lying about the year 2000, the year Charity Navigator was supposedly incorporated, or you are lying about numbers...unless of course your CEO is driving a 1979 plastic tricycle with state of the fart cadmium laced lead pedals made in north korea. Considering its earliest IRS file was in 2009, something seems like BS. You have stolen somebodies idea and are trying to look legit. You must be sweating like a north korean on meth in a tricycle sweatshop in fear of when you will be audited. Time to call the person who has really worked on this for 11 years and tell him to lawyer up.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Admit I stole it and do less time now the later

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Badly

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

Will you recommend this organization to others?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Dear Anonymous Reviewer, Charity Navigator was founded in 2001 as a private foundation. Our Form 990-PFs, as far back as 2006, are accessible on our site here: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=931. You'll find our audited financials there as well. And you'll see that we've recently completed our transition to public charity status and as such our most recent Form 990 is not a 990-PF. I'm not sure where you got the information that you quote in your review - which does not make sense at all! Please let us know so that we can properly address your questions and concerns. Sincerely, Charity Navigator

Rating: 5 stars  

I first approached Charity Navigator during the early stages of www.grabthetorch.org my goal was to present my business plan, financial parameters, overall strategy and to ask every possible question about best practices in the new world of non-profit management and transparency. I wanted to set a clear course for GTT. The objective to establish high standards and goals that follow the CN rating system. It seemed better to listen to the experts and be pro-active from inception, rather than receive a rating that would affect our reputation and limit our fund-raising capacity. Ken Berger invited me to his office and provided unlimited time and guidance. Our meeting was comfortable and informative. It also gave me an opportunity to establish a dialogue with Mr. Berger to get involved with GTT and share his wisdom with our campers and the upcoming generation of non-profit leadership and civic involvement. CN’s presentations at our summer camps has elevated our curriculum and programs. Several of our speakers and panelists were exposed to CN during our summer camps and now use CN as preferred rating system in their operations. We now use CN was a reference tool for our campers to evaluate non-profits. We believe that CN plays an incredibly important role in guiding donors and other funding resources during this new wave of fiscal transparency. We also believe that every non-profit should be reviewed on a case by case basis and that it’s the responsibility of all potential donors to conduct several layers of research.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

several layers. I used them as a research tool to compare our non-profit with others, added CN policies to our curriculum and included Ken Berger as a featured speaker.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-9-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 4 stars  

At a time of a depressed economy, scarce resources and a steady stream of stories about abuses in spending at nonprofits (particularly politically connected ones) the need for a source like Charity Navigator is greater than ever. CN is the ONLY place where donors can get completely unbiased analysis and ratings of nonprofits and of their spending. And with the announced expansion of their system to include Accountability and Performance, CN is poised to be the best in the business. I strongly endorse Charity Navigator.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

analyzing and assessing charities.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-10-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Charity Navigator provides high quality, timely, comprehensive and well designed information that has helped me do high level comparative analyses of different non-profits. This is necessary for me to deliver significant recommendations that affect my client's strategic and tactical decisions.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Consulting assignments

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 1 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

One of the worst charity evaluators that exists anywhere, bar none. It's methodology favors organizations receiving large, government and corporate grants to the detriment of independent non-profits receiving small gifts from a large number of donors and beholden to no one. An organization spending, say, 73% of its budget on programs can receive a much lower score than one spending 67% because its methodology penalizes organizations for spending on fundraising, but not administrative expenses. Donors are interested not in whether money is spent on fundraising vs. administration, but how much goes toward programs. The methodology also does not take into account salaries. An organization relying on volunteers and spending less than 10% of it revenue on payroll can receive 0 stars for efficiency, but one spending 60% on payroll can receive high rating. The rating is also highly discriminatory. The rating table allows higher fundraising and administrative costs for some groups, but not others. Groups involved in broadcast media, such as public TV, for example, are permitted higher fundraising costs because of the expense of fundraising on the air. Those receiving the vast majority of their funding from direct mail, arguably an even more expensive means of fundraising, are given no such dispensation.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Previous answer covers it.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Change the methodology. Dump the delineation between fundraising and administrative costs and just focus on how much goes to programs. Also add a score for low payroll.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

...its humor. Charity Navigator stands in judgment of a plethora of different kinds of non-profits and in many cases they are clearly out of their depth.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

It's previous ED was a bit obnoxious. No interaction with the current one.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Stop all its red ink for a few years. Charity Navigator does not practice what it preaches as it spends more than it takes in year after year.

Ways to make it better...

Charity Navigator had a rational methodology that doesn't discriminate against groups with highly-diversified funding bases.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

It's methodology, which seems to be based on the personal biases of its personnel rather than on sound principles. It only has a handful of donors and consequently little fundraising expenses, so it biases its results against fundraising.

One thing I'd also say is that...

The group appears to be very poorly managed, receiving the bulk of its funding from a handful of donors.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-4-01

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Unlike what “david-ridenour” writes in his review, Charity Navigator's current rating system looks at 7 different metrics to examine 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. In assessing a charity’s day to day efficiency we look at spending on programs, fundraising and overhead. Those metrics do take into account salaries. Then, in determining a charity’s sustainability over time, we see if it is bringing in more revenue each year, if it spending more on programs year after year and if it has a rainy day fund to sustain its operations when times get tough. Last year alone, more than four million donors disagreed with “david-ridenour” and used Charity Navigator to guide their giving decisions. TIME Magazine called Charity Navigator "One of America's 50 Coolest Websites for 2006.” Additionally, the site is a two-time Forbes award winner for "Best of the Web," was chosen by Money Magazine as one of the “20 best money Web sites in 2010,” was selected by Reader's Digest as one of the "100 Best Things about America," and was chosen by PC World as "One of America's Top Websites." In 2007, BusinessWeek inducted Charity Navigator into its "Philanthropy Hall of Fame" for "revolutionizing the process of giving." Charity Navigator was even singled out in 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Kiplinger's Financial Magazine as "One of the Best Services to Make Life Easier.” But Charity Navigator isn’t resting on this success. We are committed to expanding our rating system beyond the financial analysis we currently provide (see A Measure of Outcome, http://www.kenscommentary.org/2008/12/measure-of-outcome.html). We believe that there are three components to making a wise social investment. *First, a social investor must determine whether the charity is financially healthy. *Second, they should review the charity’s accountability and transparency practices. *Third, they need to assess the charity’s ability to deliver social value (a sustained change for the better for the people and communities who receive services). The staff at Charity Navigator is working with its Advisory Panel (http://www.charitynavigator.org/advisory) of nonprofit experts to build a rating system that encompasses analysis in each of these three areas. Charity Navigator plans to add accountability/ transparency metrics by the summer of 2010 and begin analyzing outcomes in 2011.