Charity Navigator has as its primary goal to guide intelligent giving, so we do everything we can to provide as much useful information for charitable donors/social investors to make wise decisions in choosing charities to support. We also want to help drive donations/social investments to high performing nonprofits. Together we can achieve this, and as we do we help to mitigate the cuts in funding that most charities are experiencing in this tough economy. Because, by investing in the very best, most efficient and results oriented charities, we can do more with less.
To that end, Charity Navigator has set a course to continuously improve our rating system. We made our first major innovation by implementing a donor advisory system about a year ago. Donor advisories alert you if a charity may be having some significant ethical challenges or other issues that diminish our confidence in the self reported data they provide on their annual 990 filing with the IRS. Since we rely on this self reported data to rate the charities, if we no longer have confidence it is accurate, we want you to know too! Examples include an investigation by a State Attorney Generals office of charges of fraud or a major court case such as allegations of embezzlement.
Next up on our road to continuous improvement was the implementation of CN 2.0 on 9/20/11. CN 2.0 adds a whole new dimension to our rating system that evaluates the accountability and transparency of charities. We look at, among other things, whether the charity’s Board has good governance practices as well as how open the charity is with information it provides to the public. In the past few months alone, we have seen over 1,000 changes to charities practices. In other words, we are helping to drive change in the nonprofit sector to be more accountable and to reduce the chance of fraud and inefficiency!
Coming next is what we call CN 2+! It has been almost 10 years since we launched our web site so we think it is time to go back to our original rating dimension – the financial health of charities – and see if some changes are in order. We have formed a task force of financial experts from around the country to help us think through how we can make our financial analysis even more powerful.
Finally, we are working toward adding a third dimension to our rating system (called CN 3.0) that will evaluate the quality of charities reporting on the results of their work. After all, that is the core reason for their existence! To have the best results possible in meeting their specific mission to help people and communities.
With Craig’s help we are now developing an API so that we can spread all of this information far and wide throughout the internet and more people can become wise charitable givers/social investors. We can’t thank Craig enough for his generosity and heart in this vital effort.
Ken Berger, President & CEO of Charity Navigator, has worked in the nonprofit sector for thirty years serving people in need and now is focused on helping drive more money to the best nonprofits by helping donors become wise social investors.