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How Do We Decide To Post A Donor Advisory?


Information regarding the conduct or operations of a charity or an alleged charity, that comes to the attention of Charity Navigator (CN) is reviewed by CN's Donor Advisory Issuance Committee (the committee is made up of CN staff and/or members of the Board of Directors).  

In making a determination of whether to post a Donor Advisory, the Donor Advisory Issuance Committee considers: (1) the reliability of the source of the information, (2) the nature, scope, and seriousness of the charges or allegations, (3) whether or not the allegations/charges are proven, and (4) other factors it deems relevant on a case-by-case basis.  

The Donor Advisory Issuance Committee does not have the capability to independently assess the veracity or accuracy of the information, nor does it attempt to do so. The Committee views its role solely as determining whether a donor might find such information relevant in considering whether to make a contribution to the organization. 

CN makes no representation nor takes any position regarding the accuracy or completeness of the reports referred to in the Donor Advisory or contained in the external links to which donors are directed. The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors of or sources for the reported information and not those of CN, which is not responsible for the nature or content of the information presented through such external sources and websites. 

Issues regarding the conduct or operations of a charity or an alleged charity, that could result in a Donor Advisory may include, but are not limited to:

  • The receipt of an incomplete or inaccurate Form 990 and the charity’s failure to provide an adequate explanation or an amended Form 990. Examples that have led to a Donor Advisory include charities that do not complete the schedule of expenses or that do not report their fundraising expenses.
  • One or more atypical or troublesome items of a significant nature that are reported in a charity's 990 filing.  Examples that have led to a Donor Advisory include loans to and from related parties or financial transactions that give rise to conflict of interest concerns.
  • An investigation of the charity by a government entity such as the Attorney General.
  • A settlement against a charity by a government entity such as the Attorney General.
  • Any material litigation involving a charity.
  • A media outlet reports on a charity’s improper conduct or operations after performing its own independent investigation.
  • Any other conduct that may affect a donor's decision to support a charity.
  • An alleged charity that is soliciting funds from the public.
  • Audits that contain a qualified opinion and/or an "Emphasis of Matter Regarding Going Concern."

Charity Navigator reminds viewers of its site that it is the ultimate responsibility of donors to decide whether a particular charity is appropriate for them, and that they should take into account as many sources of information (aside from Charity Navigator) as they feel comfortable in pursuing when making a charitable gift.

Donor Advisory Supersedes Rating

  • Once the Committee determines that a Donor Advisory is warranted, if the charity is currently rated by us, the rating is replaced by the Advisory. We take this approach because issues that lead to the posting of an Advisory are, by definition, of a nature such that they either diminish our confidence in the data upon which the rating is based or suggest that other factors beyond our current rating dimensions are of significant concern. Furthermore, we believe that a charity’s results are the most critical factor in selecting a charity to support and the issues identified in the Donor Advisory may reduce the charity's ability to create quality results. 
  • In cases where the charity or nonprofit has a page on our site, but is not currently rated by us, the Donor Advisory will replace the information displayed on the organization's page on our site.
  • If the organization is not listed in the IRS data base as a US registered charity, there is no information to replace and the Donor Advisory will appear as a new page on the site.

The Process

Before Publishing a Donor Advisory

  • In advance of publishing a new Donor Advisory, if the organization is currently rated by Charity Navigator, we will notify the charity and give it an opportunity to provide information to the Committee about the issue that resulted in the Donor Advisory.

Once the Donor Advisory is Published

  • Donor Advisories will remain in place for at least 12 months.
  • In the case of charities that are rated by us, the charity's historical ratings are removed from the website for the duration of the Donor Advisory.
  • Charities with Donor Advisories are welcome to provide information concerning the advisory, at any time. Even if the information received by Charity Navigator does not warrant the revocation of the Donor Advisory, Charity Navigator reserves the right to provide its donors with the information provided, including links to progress reports or media coverage, in order to ensure donors have access to the most recent developments.
  • Keep in mind that the Committee will not entertain discussing these matters by phone or in person with the charity before preliminary communication by email.

See "How Do We Decide To Remove A Donor Advisory?" for an explanation about our process for removing Donor Advisories.



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