Disable all preview features

Mission, Vision, and Goals



the entire philanthropic ecosystem with the tools needed to make impactful investments
the number of people who understand and commit to the idea of intentional philanthropy
the world's commitment to giving


Charity Navigator was founded in 2001 by Pat and Marion Dugan, who were passionate about charitable giving and social investing but witnessed report after report of scandals at local and national charities. Marion and Pat decided to create an unbiased source of information that would provide charitable givers and social investors across the country with every type of charitable interest the tools necessary to make informed giving decisions.

The following timeline recounts some of the key events in the history of Charity Navigator.


Charity Navigator is founded. Pat and Marion Dugan envision an unbiased and transparent source of information that would assist givers from every state, and with every type of charitable interest, in finding a charity to support.  




April 2002




Charity Navigator launches as a new, free service cataloging the financial health of over eleven hundred charities. Upon launch, Charity Navigator becomes the largest independent charity evaluating service in the world.



December 2004

To help donors avoid becoming victims of mailing-list appeals, Charity Navigator begins to assess each charity's commitment to keeping donors' personal information confidential.

January 2007

Charity Navigator partners with Network for Good to add the ability for donors to give through its website. Twenty thousand donors take advantage of this tool during the course of the year, giving more than $2.6 million to more than 2,200 of the charities rated by Charity Navigator. 

December 2007

The IRS releases the newly designed Form 990. This is the first major redesign of the document since 1979.

Charity Navigator begins to make plans to use the additional data provided in the new Form 990 to expand its rating system.

April 2008

Charity Navigator rates 5,000 charities.

September 2011

After collecting data for more than a year, Charity Navigator launches an expanded, two-dimensional rating system that includes a measurement of each charity's  Accountability & Transparency.

April 2012

Charity Navigator turns 10!

December 2013

The Board and staff of Charity Navigator ring the New York Stock Exchange Opening Bell!


June 2016

Charity Navigator launches its enhanced Financial Health rating methodology. This update captures an organization’s long-term capacity and health by allowing for higher scores in program expense, removing the volatile primary revenue growth metric, including three-year averaging for non-capacity metrics, and introducing a new capacity metric, Liabilities to Assets Ratio (compare the new Financial Health rating metrics to the prior metrics).



September 2016

Charity Navigator launches a CN Advisory System designed to protect donors from charity scams and alleged misconduct by providing unbiased and objective information that ensures donors are provided information that may influence their giving decisions. 



December 2016


The Charity Navigator community came together and donated $8.9 million to 7,907 charities via the Giving Basket.



April 2017

Charity Navigator turns 15!

August 2017

With Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the earthquakes in Mexico, Charity Navigator sees it's third largest period of giving ever, behind December 30th and 31st of 2016.

November 2017

Partnering with sector leaders GuideStar, Classy, and GlobalGiving, Charity Navigator launches impact statements on profiles of over 2,400 charities.

December 2017

On December 30 and 31, 2017, Charity Navigator facilitated record-high donations through the Giving Basket to thousands of organizations.

July 2020

Charity Navigator launches its Encompass Rating System, expanding the number of charities we rate from 9,000 to 160,000. The rating will eventually assess nonprofits on four beacons: Finance & Accountability, Impact & Results, Leadership & Adaptability and Culture & Community.

September 2020

Charity Navigator acquires ImpactMatters. ImpactMatters rated nonprofits based on the amount of good achieved per dollar spent. In November 2019, ImpactMatters released over 1,000 ratings. The release, which was profiled in The New York Times (twice), was, and still is, the largest collection of publicly available impact estimates, covering $15 billion in annual nonprofit spending.

October 2020

Charity Navigator releases its Impact & Results Beacon. The Impact & Results score will, for the first time, give nonprofits and their donors an easily understood assessment of effectiveness. The beacon is based on data and methodology developed by ImpactMatters.

Join Our Mailing List

Join over 400,000 other informed givers and get updates on charity ratings, new features, hot topics, and tips for donating.