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    Michael Thatcher speaking

    Reflecting on 2021 and Looking Forward to Our 20th Year

    A message from Michael Thatcher, President & CEO, Charity Navigator

    Dear friends of Charity Navigator,


    I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy, safe, and that your holidays were peaceful, bright, and merry. 


    Reflecting back on the last 12 months, it’s hard to believe how much has happened within Charity Navigator and the world around us.  We entered the year with hope and some trepidation.  The global pandemic ebbed and surged with different variants. Following a volatile transition in government, national social unrest persisted and we experienced several natural disasters. The nonprofit sector was continuously called upon, and we have seen both nonprofits and donors alike step-up to meet the needs of communities. 


    The team at Charity Navigator is grateful to be at the intersection of donors and the nonprofits they support, particularly at such times of significant need, across so many areas.  We are proud to help make impactful giving easier for all, and we greatly appreciate all of you who use our ratings and resources, as well as generously support our efforts to expand and improve.  Thank you. 


    2021 was a record-breaking year at Charity Navigator. We rated nearly 200,000 nonprofits and provided donors with additional insight into these organizations’ total impact via the continued expansion of the Encompass Rating System. All four beacons, including Culture & Community and Leadership & Adaptability (both of which launched in 2021) are now active on our site. The  first version of our Nonprofit Portal launched in June, providing nonprofits the opportunity to share data with us at scale for evaluations going forward. 


    The year was not without its challenges, both domestically and internationally. Every year, millions of donors come to Charity Navigator in response to acute crises and long-term challenges. In 2021, our expert analysts curated a dozen lists to guide donors toward vetted, highly rated nonprofits involved in disaster relief and recovery efforts. Our lists included the Surfside condominium collapse in Florida, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Ida, and more recently, and the catastrophic tornadoes that devastated Kentucky and neighboring states.


    We also responded to donor needs by providing other ways to give back. For those who were interested in volunteering, we launched volunteering on Charity Navigator through a partnership with Golden. This now allows us to directly connect donors to nonprofits providing services aligned with the causes they care about most.


    Our hard work, fueled by your use and support of Charity Navigator resulted in 9.6 million people visiting our site and using our tools and resources to guide their giving in 2021. This is more than any other year in our history. Additionally, $35 million was donated to 26,547 nonprofits through our Giving Basket, bringing the total raised since the launch of this feature to more than $147 million.


    As I look back, there is an immense amount of pride at what we have accomplished. Over the last five years, for instance, we have grown our user base by 33%. During the same time period, we increased the dollars raised through our Giving Basket by 166%. It’s extremely heartening and gratifying to know our work uplifts efficient, trustworthy nonprofits working to find cures for rare diseases, alleviate food insecurity, promote tolerance and understanding, enrich communities with the arts, serve members of the military community, and so much more.  


    In June of 2021, we ratified a new five-year strategic plan, which lays out ambitious plans to expand and improve our services, as well as setting a moonshot goal: To guide a trillion dollars of giving toward better outcomes. Through this planning process, we spent a significant amount of time re-examining our mission, vision, and values, and established a NorthStar to guide us. I encourage you to take a look at this plan, which in many respects builds off the prior five-year plan. Our North Star is to enable as many people as possible to make more informed donations, and we measure this via the number of unique individuals using our guidance and information.  


    Going forward, 2022 marks the 20-year anniversary of the launch of the Charity Navigator website.  In this year, we will be ushering in improvements to what you see (and much of what you don’t see) on Charity Navigator. This includes strengthening and growing our team, continuing to increase the depth and breadth of our ratings, as we begin to unify disparate systems as we modernize our infrastructure and enable more effective use of our website, ratings and information. 


    2022 is an exciting year for the organization. You can expect a new redesigned website to enhance the donor experience, better equipping you find and support impactful nonprofits. Our ratings will be significantly expanded to include more program-specific information, including new methodologies assessing impact, as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion. As we enter this new year, we have two ratings systems and we intend to close it with just one, which combines the Star Rating System with the Encompass Rating System. We’ll be sure to share more on this important project in the coming months.


    We were incredibly humbled by the support received in 2021 from the thousands of donors from all walks of life. Your generosity, feedback, and engagement was key to our success, and we look forward to sharing updates on your return on investment with you in the months and years ahead. 


    Thank you for being a part of our journey. I’m so excited to have you along for the ride throughout our 20th anniversary, and I hope you’ll be able to join us as we celebrate later in the year, knowing the best is yet to come! 




    Michael Thatcher

    President & CEO

    Charity Navigator