Disable all preview features

How Do We Calculate the Overall Score and Star Rating?


A one dimensional rating system, like the one Charity Navigator launched in 2002 to rate the Financial Health of charities, can be done with a simple addition of scores. But rating charities on two distinct components –  (1) Financial Health + (2) Accountability and Transparency –  in such a way that charities must excel in both areas in order to score well overall, requires a more complex calculation. In our two dimensional rating system the overall score is not a sum, but rather a measurement of the distance of two component scores from a perfect score of 100 and 100. The smaller the distance to the perfect score, the better the overall score. Mathematically, the formula we use to calculate the overall score is:

Although the calculation used to determine the overall score is complex, the rating table used for Financial Health, Accountability & Transparency and the Overall Rating is the same as illustrated below.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 0 Stars Donor Advisory
Overall Score: ≥ 90 80 - 90 70 - 80 55 - 70 < 55 N/A
Overall Rating: Overall Score:
4 Stars ≥ 90
3 Stars 80 - 90
2 Stars 70 - 80
1 Star 55 - 70
0 Stars < 55
Donor Advisory N/A


Visualizing the Math

To help understand the calculation for determining a charity’s overall score, we provide a visual tool on each charity’s rating page. The following graph is an example of what is shown on the ratings pages. In this example, the charity has a score of 88 in Financial Health (3-stars) and 77 in Accountability and Transparency (2-stars). Following the 88 score on the vertical scale and the 77 on the horizontal scale to where they meet, it is easy to see that the charity earns a 3-star overall rating.

You can also plug the charity’s two individual component scores – (1) Financial Health and (2) Accountability and Transparency – into the boxes below. This tool will perform the complex distance formula calculation for you so that you can easily obtain the charity’s overall score.

1 - Financial Health Score 2 - A&T Score Overall Score
1 - Financial Health Score
2 - A&T Score
Overall Score
[ X ]

Did You Know We Are a Charity, Too?

If even a third of the 7 million people who visited our site last year had donated a dollar to Charity Navigator, we would comfortably meet our annual budget and be able to do what so many of you ask us to do every day--rate more charities!

With the support of users like you, we are currently investing in staff and technology. This will allow us to improve the search and organizational features of our site, making it easier to find the information that matters most to you. We will also continue to enhance our evaluation system and metrics.

So, whether you're a first time visitor or a long time user, we ask for your help in achieving our goal. Your gift of any size is most deeply appreciated! Thank You!

With the support of users like you, we are making it easier to find the info that matters most. Thank you!

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.

Help Center