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How Current are Our Ratings?

 
 

All of Charity Navigator's ratings are based on the financial information each charity provides annually in its informational tax returns, or IRS Forms 990. We obtain copies of each charity's Forms 990 directly from the IRS about two to three months after a charity files. Once we have a new Form 990, we promptly update the charity's record and publish a new evaluation on the first of the following month. Thus our ratings are based on the most current information made public by each charity.

We publish the fiscal year ending (shown as 'FYE' followed by a month and year) on each charity's rating page so you know the time period our rating covers.

FYE

That said, charities are given 135 days following the end of their fiscal year to prepare and file their Form 990. Beyond that time limit, many charities request extensions, including an additional four-month time limit, which are automatically approved by the IRS. As a result, organizations often file their 990 eight to ten months after their fiscal year ends-- a lifetime in financial sectors.

If the charity you are considering has outdated financial information, we encourage you to contact them and tell them you expect them to be timelier. Their timeliness in reporting their data will allow you to make a smarter giving decision.

When a new rating is published for a charity, the financial information and rating are not the only components of the evaluation page that are updated. We review all of the information on a charity's evaluation page, including the mission, donor privacy policy and contact information. In most cases, the additional information is derived from the charity's website. In rare cases, when the information on a charity's site is incomplete or the charity does not have a website, then we will consult the Form 990 and/or the charity's marketing materials.

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