Dear Friends of Charity Navigator,
2013 has already been a year of amazing accomplishments for Charity Navigator, but the fact is that we’re just getting started on what has been hailed as “the most important work going on in the nonprofit sector”. Last spring, I wrote to you about CN 3.0’s successful launch on January 23rd, with results reporting information displayed for three charities in the pilot cause area—children’s and family services. As I write to you now, that number has increased to 377 and we anticipate reaching our goal of 600 by year’s end, along with handily reaching our target of 7,000 charities rated in two dimensions (CN 2.0)—financial health and accountability/transparency. These achievements, plus the addition of the information pages on all of the roughly 1.6 million US registered nonprofits, were made possible as a direct result of the generosity of our users.
The bar we’ve set for ourselves will be raised significantly in 2014. The measurable goals we have established call for adding significant human and technological resources to get the job done. In 2013 we hired 3 new program analysts who have played a pivotal role in our ability to move the needle on gathering and displaying CN 3.0 results reporting data. For 2014 our two primary goals are to (1) double the number of charities evaluated on results reporting to 1,200 (bringing the grand total to 1,800), and (2) add another 1,000 new CN 2.0 charity ratings to our database, bringing the grand total to 8,000 by the end of next year. Additionally, one of the major challenges we’ve decided to begin to tackle in 2014 is determining appropriate results reporting measures for some of the more difficult cause areas—the arts being an example.
While we work on all of the above, we also will continue to make significant improvements to our web site so your user experience is better than ever. To that end, we also hired a new web site developer. You may have noticed recently that our home page was updated with a rotating slide show of important features and topics, as well as drop down menus at the top of the page that make searches for information easier to find and more accessible. And by Thanksgiving, just in time for your end of year giving, we hope to have fully implemented a new feature which will allow you to create a shopping cart of donations for both rated and unrated charities. You will be able to complete your donation transaction with a simple mouse click and have your giving history at your fingertips for your convenience at tax time, all without leaving our web site. We are also working on making the Unrated Organizations pages more robust. In the near future, we will be adding a “Vote” feature for those charities that meet our rating criteria, our users’ most requested charities into a higher place in the ratings queue. We will also be updating and enhancing our “Evaluate It Yourself” guidelines to further assist you in performing your own assessment of unrated charities.
On a personal note, at the end of this past spring, I celebrated my 5th anniversary as CN’s President and CEO. I am truly inspired by what your generous financial support has enabled us to do to evolve into what I believe is the best scalable charity rating service anywhere. I am delighted to share with you what we’ve accomplished on your behalf and that of the millions of visitors we have each year, a number that continues to grow at a good pace as we widen (increase the number of rated charities) and deepen (increase the number of charities with CN 3.0 information displayed) the impact of our primary product—charity ratings. With all of this, coupled with ongoing improvements and enhancements to our web site as well as the addition of new products and services, I hope you share our excitement about the amazing things yet to come!
In our ongoing effort to be a role model for what we are asking the charities we evaluate to do—including showing meaningful evidence of their results,—we are developing and implementing an internal performance management and measurement system for CN. As you may know, we already report on our results at our quarterly Board meetings. After each meeting, we post the same results target dashboard on our web site that we present to them. However, we want to become even more precise and outcome-focused in what we do. Through grant funding, we have hired a consultant to help us develop and implement a system to further define and track key outcome indicators for our work. We anticipate that this system will be operational in early 2014. We look forward to reporting to you on the outcomes of this effort!
I hope our ambitious plans for the year ahead will encourage you to support our efforts. Our team believes that what we are working on is truly a history-making endeavor. We are asking charities to report on what matters most—that is, what they are specifically doing to fulfill their charitable missions! If they respond to CN 3.0 in a manner similar to the way they did to CN 2.0 (50% of charities have made positive, proactive changes to their accountability/transparency reporting and practices), it will be truly transformational! More charitable/social investment dollars will go to the highest performing charities and the world will be a much better place!
Thanks in advance for your help—it means the world to us!
All the best,
President and CEO
P.S. Your opinion is what counts! We are hosting several donor/user focus groups in the coming months and would like you to participate. If you’re interested, let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to provide the best service we possibly can—and we would not be where we are without your support, both financial and through your faithful use of and belief in our service.