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Nonprofit CEOs Recognize Peers' Achievements

October 1, 2009

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At Charity Navigator, it is our goal to advance a more efficient philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation's most persistent challenges. Since 2002, we have carried out our mission by rating the financial health of thousands of charities. In doing so, we have provided donors with assistance in their charitable choices.  

But we want to do more. It is our intention to expand our analysis to include information about each charity’s accountability and transparency as well as its programmatic effectiveness. As we’ve previously indicated, we plan to tackle accountability and transparency issues in the near future. The more challenging task of developing a universal, objective system that evaluates programmatic effectiveness for thousands of charities will take more time.  

While we can not provide programmatic effectiveness ratings today, we have begun to dip a toe in the water. For example, this past summer we invited charities to nominate outstanding peers. Our theory being that nonprofit professionals will be able to readily identify great charities based on their professional expertise and experience in the field. Specifically, we asked the CEOs of all of our 3 and 4-star charities to nominate up to three of their peers (charities within their category with a 3 or 4-star rating) that they believe have the most significant outcomes. We define outcomes as meaningful and sustainable changes in conditions, behavior, or attitudes in people and communities that indicate progress toward achievement of the mission and objectives of the charity. Below is a synopsis of our findings. 

Results
A total of 648 votes were cast for 479 charities. The following 103 charities received at least two nominations. 

Category

Charity

Number of Votes

Animals

Dumb Friends League

7

Best Friends Animal Society

4

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

4

The Humane Society of the United States

4

Alley Cat Allies

3

Oregon Humane Society

3

Wisconsin Humane Society

3

PetSmart Charities

2

Houston SPCA

2

Humane Farming Association

2

Richmond SPCA

2

San Francisco SPCA

2

International Crane Foundation

2

Defenders of Wildlife

2

American Bird Conservancy

2

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

2

Shedd Aquarium

2

Arts, Culture, Humanities

The Los Angeles Philharmonic

3

National Public Radio

3

Indianapolis Museum of Art

2

American Museum of Natural History

2

Artspace Projects

2

Brooklyn Academy of Music

2

Education

Teach For America

4

Green Dot Public Schools

3

DonorsChoose

2

Merit School of Music

2

Pinellas Education Foundation

2

The Posse Foundation

2

Phillips Exeter Academy

2

Environment

Natural Resources Defense Council

5

Land Trust Alliance

4

Environmental Defense Fund

3

Save The Bay, California

2

Center for Biological Diversity

2

North Carolina Coastal Federation

2

Earthjustice

2

Rainforest Action Network

2

Southern Environmental Law Center

2

Health

The Hole in the Wall Gang Fund

4

Give Kids The World

4

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

3

CaringBridge

3

Lance Armstrong Foundation

2

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

2

American Heart Association

2

Arthritis Foundation - Wisconsin Chapter

2

The Scripps Research Institute

2

Make-A-Wish Foundation of America

2

Victory Junction Gang

2

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California

2

Teen Challenge of Southern California

2

Human Services

Atlanta Community Food Bank

7

San Antonio Food Bank

4

Denver Rescue Mission

3

YMCA of Middle Tennessee

3

North Texas Food Bank

2

Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan

2

National Alliance to End Homelessness

2

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

2

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

2

Energy Outreach Colorado

2

Meals on Wheels and More

2

Society of St. Vincent de Paul - Phoenix

2

D.C. Central Kitchen

2

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

2

YouthBuild USA

2

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida

2

Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco

2

International

World Vision

6

International Rescue Committee

4

Compassion International

4

MAP International

4

Friends of Yad Sarah

3

American Technion Society

3

Samaritan's Purse

2

Living Water International

2

Opportunity International

2

Food For The Poor

2

Free Wheelchair Mission

2

Fonkoze USA

2

Public Benefit

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles

4

Habitat for Humanity of Collier County

3

The Boston Foundation

3

Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago

3

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

3

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

3

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, California

2

Greater Twin Cities United Way

2

Robin Hood Foundation

2

United Way of Greater Cincinnati

2

The Brookings Institution

2

Religion

Young Life

6

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA

3

Teen Mania Ministries

3

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

3

e3 Partners Ministries

2

The Voice of the Martyrs

2

Christian Medical & Dental Associations

2

Frontiers

2

Open Doors USA

2

KSBJ Educational Foundation

2

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

2

 

Notable Comments 
Our survey also provided space so that each CEO could provide a statement to support their nomination(s). Surprisingly, nearly every submission had a corresponding statement of support. Here are some of the ones that stood out and point towards the nominees’ programmatic effectiveness.  

  • It is a model for best practices in our industry. They have aggressively sought resources and systems to address hunger related issues in the communities they serve. They are also willing to share knowledge and resources with others in food banking to promote network outcomes. ~ About The Atlanta Community Food Bank
  • I have observed excellent accountability on the ground. They have also been honest in their providing their outcome information. . ~ About Compassion International
  • Results oriented agency which raises significant funds. These contributions are immediately earmarked in fulfillment of their mission: better treatments/possible cure. They have accomplished a great deal in this regard. ~ About Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America
  • It has a group of world class biomedical scientists whose research focuses on the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of cancer. ~ About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Always lead the way with unique ideas, strong leadership team, collaborative spirit, deliver on what they say they will do, have the trust of their community, respected by their peers, aligned with other industries (pet food, veterinary,etc). Known to be a leader in best practices. ~ About Dumb Friends League
  • This organization has successfully represented us pro bono on a number of crucial cases… They seldom get the headline, but they do get the results. ~ About Earthjustice
  • It has been highly effective measuring outcomes for the work it does and making the work of art museums highly transparent to the public. ~ About Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Most organizations excel either at building awareness or driving real change. NRDC has mastered both. They have attracted some of the very smartest people, they keep them on board, and they support them in their work.~ About Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Pioneer in recruiting from the for-profit sector, and being as data-driven and rigorous as any company.~ About Teach for America
Conclusion
The survey is not meant to provide objective or conclusive data. However, it indicates preliminary evidence that the desire and focus on becoming a high performing charity is beginning to take hold. We thank the CEOs who provided their input and we hope that there will be an ever increasing emphasis on high performance and meaningful, sustainable results.   

 

 
 
   
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