The Christian Century
June 12, 2002
Before writing a check to a charity, you might want to check out www.charitynavigator.org. Started by a retired pharmaceuticals executive, it uses tax filings to assess charities' financial health, including fund-raising efficiency, percentage of overall budget which goes to the intended mission of the organization, and the sustainability of the organization.
Some critics say this analysis misses the nuances of different charities by using tax filings rather than audited financial statements and that it puts too much emphasis on growth of revenues and the amount of reserves charities have. It treats charities like equities in the stock market. Charity Navigator has several rival sources which analyze charities, such as give.org, an alliance of the Better Business Bureau and the National Charities Information Bureau, and charitywatch.org, sponsored by the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Charity Navigator includes these marks for overall rating (four stars is the highest) and fund-raising efficiency (amount used to raise $1.00): Bread for the World: 3 stars, $0.14; Heifer Project: 3 stars, $0.19; Lutheran World Relief 4 stars, $0.02; Oxfam America: 3 stars, $0.15.
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