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Charity Navigator was founded in 2001 by Pat and Marion Dugan, who were passionate about charitable giving and social investing but were witnessing reports of scandals at local and national charities. Marion and Pat concluded that they needed an independent and objective source of information to rely upon but were not able to find a readily available source of information. They 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 on the simple premise that people are amazingly generous and enjoy helping others but are not always sure how to go about it. Our founders, 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 to help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions. The new, free service catalogs the financial health of over eleven hundred charities. Upon its launch, it is 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 which charities will begin completing in 2009 based on their financial operations in 2008. 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 launched a new, 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 were invited to ring the New York Stock Exchange Opening Bell!

August 2014

Charity Navigator transitions from a 70 point rating scale to a more intuitive 100 point scale. 

December 2014

Charity Navigator reaches ratings for 8,000 charities!

June 2016

Charity Navigator launches its enhanced Financial Health rating methodology. CN 2.1 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 new CN Advisory System after various advisory projects, designed to protect donors from charity scams and alleged misconduct by providing unbiased and objective information that ensures donors are informed, in a timely manner, of information that may influence their giving decisions. The new CN Advisory System classifies alleged wrongdoing at charitable organizations into three levels of concern: Low, Moderate and High.


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.

October 2017

Charity Navigator receives the 2017 NonProfit Pro Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence in the Multi-Channel Category.

November 2017

Charity Navigator rates 9,000 charities!

With partners GuideStar, Classy, and GlobalGiving, Charity Navigator launches impact statements on profiles of over 2,400 charities.

December 2017

With December 30th and 31st, Charity Navigator sees the highest days of giving on the platform yet.

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