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FAQ for Donors


Frequently Asked Questions For Donors

  1. How do I find a charity on your site? Answer
    • You can use our trusted ratings to find a charity you can support. Our intelligent search engine will help you identify a charity by Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is unique to every organization, or name or keyword by simply using the search feature located at the top of every page. Then you can refine your search using the 'Filter Your Search Results' function located on the left-hand side of the search results. This tool enables you to filter by such things as category, state, rating, size, scope of a charity's work and by whether or not it has a privacy policy.

      Additionally, you may wish to try our advanced search tool, browes our categories and hot topics, view all 4-star charities, or explore an alphabetical list of the thousands of charities that we've evaluated.
  2. How can I request that Charity Navigator evaluate a specific charity? Answer
    • Charity Navigator currently provides star ratings for more than 9,000 charitable organizations and an Encompass rating for more than 150,000, making us America's largest charity evaluator. In fact, the ones we provide star ratings for account for roughly 40% of the donations in America (excluding donations to houses of worship).
      • Even if we don't rate a charity, you can still find basic information about it on its listing our site. That page will also include a link to the steps you can follow to conduct your own due diligence.

      • If you are a registered user of our site (this is free) and the charity meets our criteria for a star rating, then you can click on the Vote Now button on the charity's page on our site to vote for us to rate it.

      • You may also wish to use our advanced search tool to look for other charities that match your philanthropic interests.

  3. Does it cost to use Charity Navigator? Answer
    • No, you do not have to pay to use our service.

      Charity Navigator accepts no funding from the charities that we evaluate, ensuring that our ratings remain objective. Furthermore, in our commitment to help America's philanthropists of all levels make informed giving/ social investment decisions, we refuse to charge our users for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a 501 (c) (3) public charity itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe we provide a much-needed service to America's charitable donors. 
  4. Is this charity legitimate? Answer
    • While not all inclusive, we do have a listing of fake charities on our site. You will want to avoid these groups.

      That said, if the organization you are looking into has a regular listing on our site, then it is a bona fide nonprofit organization. On its profile page, you can see if it is a 501 (c ) (3) public charity.  This is an important designation because donations to 501 (c) (3) public charities qualify for a tax deduction whereas gifts to other types of nonprofits typically do not.  Rest assured that all of the charities evaluated by Charity Navigator meet this basic requirement.

      Remember, just because the organization is a bona fide nonprofit, doesn't mean it is worthy of your support. Be sure to do your due diligence before you give. 
  5. I voted for a charity to get a star rating by Charity Navigator. When will it be evaluated? Answer
    • If you have voted to have a charity star rated, then it will take a minimum of several months until we are able to add that charity to the list of charities that we rate. As the vote tallies increase for specific charities, we will review them as soon as possible to determine if they meet all of our criteria for qualify to be rated. If the charity does meet the criteria, then our team of analysts will work to complete and publish a rating for that charity. And you will receive an email from us once the rating is accessible on our site.

      In the meantime, every charity does have a page of basic information on our site, even if we haven't yet rated it.
  6. Which charities do you evaluate under the Star rating system? Answer
  7. The CEO's salary of my favorite charity seems high, should I make a contribution? Answer
    • While there are certainly some charities that overpay their leaders, Charity Navigator's data shows that those organizations are the minority. Among the charities we've evaluated (those being mid to large-sized charities), the typical CEO's annual compensation is in the low to mid six figures. Before you make any judgments about salaries higher or lower than that range, we encourage you to keep in mind that these charities are complex organizations, with multi-million dollar budgets, hundreds of employees, and thousands of constituents. These leaders could inevitably make much more running similarly sized for-profit firms. Furthermore, when making your decision it is important to consider that it takes a certain level of professionalism to effectively run a charity and charities must offer a competitive salary if they want to attract and retain that level of leadership.

      For additional information, please take a look at Charity Navigator's CEO Compensation study.

  8. Does the CEO salary impact a charity's rating? Answer
    • The CEO salary does not specifically impact a charity's Financial Health rating (other than it being factored into the expenses). We provide this information solely as part of our larger effort to bring transparency to the charitable sector and to help educate donors. It is a matter of public record. In publishing this data we also enable charities to benchmark their executives' compensation against that of their peers.

      However, failure to properly report CEO compensation information on a charity's form 990 will result in a deduction of points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score in the star rating system.

  9. How did the charity I looked at get the star rating it has? Answer
    • We provide star ratings for charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. Our ratings show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent. We provide these ratings so that givers can make intelligent giving decisions, and so that the philanthropic community can more effectively monitor itself.

      Visit the Methodology section of our site to read an in-depth explanation of our rating system.
  10. What is the Encompass rating? Answer
    • For details regarding the Encompass rating please see our Encompass FAQs.

If you did not see your question above, then please see our expanded list of FAQs.

If you represent a charity, view our FAQ for charities.

You can also contact us directly by using this Form

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