Charity Navigator

Rating: 3.33 stars   21 reviews

Issues:

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: 5 stars   Featured Review

I want my donations to get to the causes and people I care about and Charity Navigator provides a trustworthy, accurate, and easy to use way to do that. Their tools and site are easy to navigate.

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

my decisions about donating. It has prevented me from donating to charities that are not reputable or whose overhead prohibits my donation from direct service.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-3-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

I find it disappointing and at the same time extremely surprising that you void charity gift cards only 6 months after purchase. Consumers get better protections today with gift cards, which is certainly one of the lowest standards I can think of. I purchased gift cards for my daughters in the hope of educating them on charitable giving and instead the lesson might have been better titled "caveat emptor". I would encourage your Board to adopt a greater vision for your gift cards; you can do better than Home Depot. Brian Murphy

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unlikely

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

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Was this review helpful? 

Dear Mr. Murphy, I’m sorry to learn that you’ve had a frustrating experience with the Good Card. As you may know, at Charity Navigator we rate the financial health and accountability & transparency of nearly 6,000 charities (for free) to help donors make informed giving decisions. I understand your concern with the Good Card expiration date, but this is not a program of Charity Navigator, but rather Network for Good. We simply post a link to their charitable gift cards for those that are interested in that type of giving opportunity. I recommend that you contact Network for Good directly for assistance. They will be better equipped to address your concerns regarding their Good Cards: http://www.networkforgood.org/about/contact.aspx. I hope that I’ve been able to clarify that the Good Card isn't a product of Charity Navigator. We'd greatly appreciate you reconsidering your review of our organization since your complaint wasn't with our free, trusted and objective rating service. Sincerely, ~Charity Navigator Staff

Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 4 stars  

This is a great site that aims to help eliminate some of the confusion that can surround attempting to find a reputable charity. It definitely fills a void, as I didn't see any other sites out there that are so professionally run, and detailed. The info listed here can be a bit overwhelming, but the site at least makes an attempt to mitigate that through tutorials and other help screens. One quick complaint though... when you go to make a donation through this site, they take you to a different site - Network for Good, where you need to use a different login. So you can setup all your charities here, but when you go to give, you will need to set them all up again on the Network for Good site.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

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

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 

Dear Kevin Kauffman, Thank you for your interest in Charity Navigator and for your kind words about our service! We also appreciate you taking the time to share your constructive criticism about the donation experience. We 100% agree with your concerns. And we are working with Network For Good to implement their API so that the user experience will be much improved. Once that integration is completed, the process will require just one login on our site and it will appear to be a more seamless transaction (rather than a hand-off as it stands now). We’re working to have that up and running by the end of 2012. So, stay tuned! Best wishes in all your charitable endeavors, Charity Navigator

Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

I am wondering how many of these charities have accurate financial information posted here because I noticed that Catholic Charities was rated four stars with no listed government contributions which I know for a fact is completely untrue. In addition to most of the food they give away being USDA or local food banks there are many program fees charged by them which is why courts have found that restricting adoptions on their part for any reason including sexual orientation is illegal. Wisconsin recently canceled their 32 million dollar per year contract with the Catholic church for this reason . You can find more accurate information of them in business week than on Charity Navigator and I find that pretty sorry.
http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/02_15/b3778004.htm?chan=mz

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unlikely

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

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 

Dear Jack234, Thank you for your interest in informed giving and for taking the time to write a review of Charity Navigator’s free charity rating service. One of our core values is continuous improvement and feedback from our users is integral to that process. At Charity Navigator, we’ve gone to great lengths to develop an unbiased, objective and transparent rating system that can be used to evaluate the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of thousands of charities. We obtain much of the data we use to rate each charity from the Form 990 (annual informational tax return). The Form 990 is completed after an outside auditor has reviewed the charity’s financial performance. The charity’s Board reviews the Form 990 before it is filed and the charity’s top executive signs off on it indicating that the data within the document is factual. The document is then submitted to the IRS (federal charity regulatory office) and also to each and every state charity regulatory office in which the charity solicits donations. We tell you all of that because if you are aware that a charity has mischaracterized their financial position on the Form 990, then you should immediately notify the regulatory agencies that have the power to investigate and prosecute criminal activities (if there have been any). However, we respectfully submit that this might be simply a case of misunderstanding. As the link you shared to BusinessWeek indicates, the Catholic Church is made up of many, many different parts. We only rate a few of its 501 c 3 public charities that are required to file the Form 990. Specifically, we rate 18 Catholic Charities (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?keyword_list=catholic+charities&nameonly=1&Submit2=GO&bay=search.results&sortby=rtg) and their ratings range from 2-stars (needs improvement) to 4-stars. Obviously, this does not show the complete picture of the Catholic Church as ‘houses of worship’ (including the Salvation Army) are exempt from filing the Form 990. So, while a few of Catholic Charities we rate do not receive money from the government, doesn’t mean that other parts of the Catholic Church do not. In fact, only 5 (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?keyword_list=catholic+charities&bay=search.results&EIN=&cgid=&cuid=&location=2&stid=&city=&overallrtg=&size=&ceosalary=&scopeid=&gvt=1&Submit=Submit) of the 18 Catholic Charities we rate report no government support. So, in fact, most of the Catholic Charities we rate DO receive government support. We hope that we’ve been able to address your concerns and that we’ve been able to clear up any misinterpretation of our data/ rating system. We thank you for your obvious commitment to responsible and informed giving and wish you all the best in your charitable endeavors!

Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

Another ideological left group masquerading as a charity monitor. It's evaluations are designed to favor those receiving government grants and other large gifts... principally those of the ideological left. No self-respecting conservative group would accept government funds. The group's leadership tells us something of its motives. Trent Stamp, its first president, served as congressional staff for a liberal member of Congress. Now he works for the Eisner Foundation, Michael Eisner's foundation. The former Disney CEO is about as left-wing as they come.

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

that its results are biased against groups with independent funding, favors those groups getting tax-payer support.

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

Diversify the board, diversify the funding, develop a review system that is equitable and provides donors information they really need... How much goes to programs. Forget the stuff that's irrelevant.

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

Not much.

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

None.

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

...say it has its third major donor. The group currently gets most of its funding from its Chairman, philanthropist John Dugan. Additionally, three of Charity Navigator's eight board members are Dugans.

Ways to make it better...

The group's reviews weren't biased towards groups that have their hands in my pockets. Receiving government funding ought to be counted against groups, not for them.

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

The groups has been running in the red for several years and has a limited funding base, harming their credibility. Its reviews useless.

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

Reviews aren't particularly timely. New 990s are available for some groups more than 6 months before updates are made.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-4-01

Was this review helpful? 

Charity Navigator’s rating system was designed to be completely objective and unbiased. We rate all different types of charities, we employ professional staff with all different political preferences and the subjective opinions of our staff do not enter into the equation. A charity’s political leaning makes no impact on its rating. Whether or not a charity receives government funding also has no impact on a charity’s rating. That said, we do have a top 10 list that appears on our site every few months that specifically highlights those highly rated charities that receive no government funding http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten. I encourage you to check out the ‘methodology’ portion of our site to better understand how we rate charities.