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Which Charities Do You Trust?

Hope Outreach

Do you respond to telephone or mail solicitations for deciding which charities are most deserving of your funds? How do you know if the charity is well managed and that most of the funds actually get to the intended use rather than for administrative and fundraising costs?

Charity Navigator, “America’s leading independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability and Transparency of 6,000 of America’s largest charities.” They “rate charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency.” Their ratings “show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent.”

In addition, Charity Navigator now uses what they refer to a CN 3.0 methodology, launched January 2013. This attempts to look at results and poses these important, challenging questions:

  1. Can the organization supply information about meaningful and lasting change in the communities and lives of the people it serves?
  2. Can they show evidence that these changes are as a result of their efforts?
  3. Do they have systems and processes in place to effectively manage their performance?

Charity Navigator has lots of Top Ten Lists you might want to browse. They also have interesting commentaries such as “The Best and Worst Way to Pick a Charity”.

Charity Navigator evaluates only one Redding, CA-based charity.  Good News Rescue Mission in Redding, CA, which raised $1.7 million in 2011 has only a one star rating (out of 4 stars possible), scoring 37 points out of 100, compared with similar “highly rated” charities scoring nearly 60 points. Charity Navigator rates some 362 charities that serve the homeless, many with 3 or 4 stars.

To be clear, it is not my intention to question or in any way disparage the very good work that Good News Rescue Mission does for a segment of the homeless population in the Redding, CA area. Perhaps they will rate higher in future years when the CN 3.0 methodology is fully implemented? However, my own opinion is that there are still too many homeless people in Redding, CA who do not fit the criteria that Good News Rescue Mission has, to assume that the needs of the homeless are being adequately attended to by this one institution. I believe People of Progress deserves greater public support; a comprehensive daycare center needs to be created locally; and homelessness needs to be decriminalized rather than just swept under the rug by our leaders. Further I believe that local city government, business, civic organizations and faith communities all need to work cooperatively together to address this important issue to lessen human suffering. Grassroots, interfaith, volunteer adjuncts to Hope’s medical Outreach are worthy of support too.

Note: CN does not evaluate religious groups such as The Salvation Army, as “many religious organizations are exempt under Internal Revenue Code from filing the Form 990. As a result, they lack sufficient data to evaluate their financial health.”

Charity Navigator even has a list of  highly-rated charities tackling the issues surrounding global warming. They note “it is a good place to start, whether you just want to learn more about climate change or whether you want to support the work of charities that strive to discover clean and sustainable energy sources, those that aim to curb deforestation, those that struggle to change policy, or those that protect animals endangered by climate change.”

I particularly like Charity Navigator’s “Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors.

Be generous and wise in your donations.

  • Thank you for sharing this important information.Also thank you for sharing your ideas! How do we get his conversation up and running in a mighty way?