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President and CEO's Report for November 2013

NPR interview and Baloney Comment, Mobile Apps, Book deal, Giving Season Begins

November 1, 2013


Our message about the need to evaluate charities based on their reporting of measurable results (that indicate evidence they are meeting their mission), appears to finally be getting into the mainstream. NPR's Morning Edition provided a report on our work in this area on 10-22-13 which led to a number of follow-up stories (here and here). As is often the case with radio interviews, I had about 60 seconds worth of time during a less than 5 minute segment, but it is a start! The comment that seemed to get the most attention from my interview involved my reaction to a litany of reasons some charities are giving for why they can not measure their results. The exact quote from me was, “I think that there’s a lot of baloney in that sandwich.” The details of why I said that and the rest of the 30 minutes I spent with the reporter (plus follow-up emails) is missing from the story. So some people did not like what I said while others were literally ecstatic. I believe that reflects the nature of our role in the sector as outspoken watchdog that speaks plainly and bluntly about the state of the nonprofit sector. So very few people do. Furthermore, it is very clear to us that there are many excuses (here is my response to one example) that charities are giving for not measuring their results and reporting on them. If you read our concept note on the subject (which the reporter did), it is very clear that we intend to have a multi-year developmental approach to implementing this the results reporting dimension to our rating system. In addition, we are attempting to tailor the metrics of this new dimension to suit the unique circumstances of charities in each cause area. If you have a moment to listen to the interview, I also urge you to look at the over 50 comments below the report. I made about 10 of those comments to try to explain to some of the readers of the story, the details that were left out of the report. As one of our wise Board member’s observed, it “seems we have a major education effort to do.” Indeed we do!

In the coming days we plan to launch a mobile version of our website (for those of you who visit our site from your smartphones and other mobile devices). Soon to follow will be mobile apps for both the iphone and the Android phone. If you would be interested in being a beta tester for the mobile app, please email us at betatesting@charitynavigator.org. We want to be sure that the app is well suited to your needs and believe your feedback (constituent voice in the results reporting terminology) is critically important. Thanks in advance for your help!

I am delighted to inform you that we have just signed an agreement with Wiley to publish a book with the working title, “Charity That Counts: The Charity Navigator Guide to Intelligent Giving”. It is probably not going to go to print until some time in 2015, but you should be seeing at least some of the content in upcoming articles and blogs on our site! Our colleague Dr. Robert Penna will be my co-author in this effort. As you may know, he and I have been writing articles together for some time now (a few examples can be found here, here and here).

The busiest time of year is upon us as we move into the holiday giving season. As you may know, an estimated 38% or more of all charitable gifts are made between now and the end of the year. Therefore, we will be doing our best to reply to the myriad of our users’ phone calls and emails for help, as well as the mountain of media interviews that are a part of our work at this time of year. In fact, we already have been interviewed for stories that will air shortly on ESPN, Al Jazeera America and FOX5 NY (stay tuned!).

Please remember Charity Navigator at this time of year as well. We are a charity too and are a completely free service (we do not charge our users or the charities we rate) and rely upon your donations to pay our bills. In fact, donations from our users cover the largest share of our budget. Thank you in advance for your help and have a great holiday season!

All the best,


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