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President & CEO's Report for July 2012

July 9, 2012


On 6-20-12 the Board of Directors of Charity Navigator unanimously approved a Business Plan that will guide our efforts over the next few years. This follows last year’s completion of a Strategic Plan. Whereas the Strategic Plan set the direction we intend to take, the Business Plan answers the question of how we plan to pay for it, as well as how to sustain the organization over time. As you have heard before, the two big goals we had set for the next few years are to increase the number of charities we rate to 10,000 (where about 70% of all U.S. private contributions go each year) and to deepen our rating system by adding a third dimension (CN 3.0) that considers the results reporting of all the charities we evaluate. The business planning process led us to the conclusion that we should add a third goal - to have a page of information on every nonprofit in America (even if the nonprofit is not or can not be rated by us). This will assist you in learning about why a particular charity is not currently rated, how you can evaluate a particular charity yourself and it will also be the place where you can “vote” for the next group of charities to be rated by us, among many other benefits.

The Business Plan also teased out the details of how and where the funding will come from (including foundations, earned income, advertising as well as your ongoing support) to achieve our goals. It also further clarified the staffing requirements to get to our goals. As a first step, we are planning to add six new staff between now and early 2013 including: Program Analysts (2), Information Technology Staff (2), an Administrative Assistant and a Chief Program Officer. This will increase our staffing by 40% (from 9 to 15) and give us the “hands on deck” we need to get to our intended outcomes! In addition, we intend to finalize the first prototype of CN 3.0 by the end of the year and share it with you, as well as increasing the number of charities we rate to 6,000 (as a first tangible step toward 10,000).

We believe the plans we now have in place, once enacted, will result in a fundamental transformation in our ability to serve you and provide an even more informative and interactive web site for your use. We thank our funders for the Business Plan including The Trustees’ Philanthropy Fund of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, The William T. Morris Foundation and The Lillian Pitkin Schenck Fund for making the plan possible. We also thank Barry Horwitz who was our consultant on both the Strategic and Business Plans. His efforts were above and beyond what one normally receives from the typical consulting arrangement. He offered great patience, critical thinking, focus and intelligence that infused the plans with extremely insightful, practical and clear content. Finally, I also thank the Board and staff of CN for all their hard work and attention in getting it done!

Another milestone in June 2012 is a personal one – I have now been President & CEO of Charity Navigator for four full years! I am very proud of what we have accomplished in that time and very excited about the amazing future we have planned to meet our mission of serving you. Thanks as always for making all of this possible.

All the best,

P.S. Check out my most recent blog entry at Ken’s Commentary which briefly explains my views on the challenges of measuring what matters most in the charitable sector and the fundamental problem with the recommendation many experts gave us.

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