Charity Navigator was originally funded by the New York philanthropists, John and Marion Dugan, who believed that an unbiased charity evaluator needed to be created to help benevolent citizens make informed giving decisions. Since the Dugans were Charity Navigator's sole funders, we were required at the time to register with the IRS as a private foundation. This designation differs from that of the public charities that Charity Navigator evaluates, which have a broad-base of financial support from the general public. The IRS requires that private foundations file a Form 990-PF, which is different from the document public charities file. Because the Form 990-PF does not contain some key information upon which our evaluations are based (i.e. statement of functional expenses and many of the accountability and transparency metrics), this makes it impossible for us to compare the financial performance of private foundations, like Charity Navigator has been up until now (see details below), to public charities. Once Charity Navigator has filed the requisite 5 years of 990 filings, we ourselves will be evaluated by an objective third party utilizing our rating methodology in use at that time.
In efforts to expand our capacity to (1) evaluate more charities, (2) add new dimensions to our rating system and (3) hold ourselves to the same standards as public charities, we (among other things) applied to the IRS in 2007 to begin the transition to become a public charity ourselves and were granted a 5-year interim ruling period to complete the process. At that time, we began to diversify our funding base, welcoming and actively seeking contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. Thanks to our Board, our users who have also become valued supporters and many foundation partners, we have successfully completed the transition to public charity (we are still awaiting the official word), and have filed our first long form 990 and also passed the so-called public support test with the fiscal year ended November 30, 2012. If you have not yet joined the Charity Navigator donor family and wish to support our work, please click here. We are a federally-recognized 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and donations to us are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. We encourage you to learn more about our finances by reviewing the links below.
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