We define accountability and transparency in assessing charities as follows:
We believe that charities that are accountable and transparent are more likely to act with integrity and learn from their mistakes because they want donors to know that they're trustworthy. Generally speaking, charities that follow best practices in governance, donor relations and related areas are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities. Therefore, the risk that charities would misuse donations should be lower than for charities that don't adopt such practices. When examining accountability and transparency, Charity Navigator seeks to answer two basic questions:
We consider two data sources when examining accountability and transparency:
Here's what information we collect from each source:
The IRS expanded the Form 990 in 2008 to collect additional information from charities that can accept tax-deductible donations. Several changes were designed to inform the public about potential conflicts of interest, board oversight, executive compensation, and record keeping. The IRS states that, "by making full and accurate information about its mission, activities, finance, and governance publicly available, a charity encourages transparency and accountability to its constituents." 12 of the 17 Accountability & Transparency categories that we analyze are collected from the expanded Form 990. If a charity fails to submit an answer to any of the following 12 items on the Form 990, then we deduct the points from their Accountability & Transparency score.
Please visit our Accountability and Transparency Ratings Tables to see how we score each of the performance categories that relates to the information reported on the charity's Form 990.
Five of the 17 Accountability & Transparency categories that we analyze are from a review of the charity's website. Our analysts check to see if the following information is easily accessible on the charity's website:
Please view our Accountability and Transparency Ratings Tables to see how we score each of the performance categories that relates to the presence or absence of information on the charity's website.