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Release Notes

View the improvements made to Charity Navigator's website, rating criteria, and methodology.

 
 

October 26, 2021 - Minor Release - V.05.01

Ratings Updates

  • Independent Audit or Financial Review metric has been adjusted:
    • Organizations with an annual revenue < $500,000 no longer required to complete an audit/review/compilation
    • Previous minimum threshold was $250,000
    • Adjusted in response to feedback from nonprofits and an internal review of nonprofit performance on this metric with current IRS Forms 990. Charity Navigator monitored performance of pandemic affected IRS forms 990. There was no significant movement in the metrics. As such no pandemic-related adjustments to Encompass metrics will be made for this release.

October 11, 2021 - V.04.02

Search Updates

  • The search results now include the Encompass score visual for ratings with the "Give With Confidence" moniker for those organizations that receive a passing score.
  • The star rating visuals in search results have been adjusted with the new gold stars and the "Give With Confidence" moniker for 3 and 4 star organizations.

August 3, 2021 - Major Release - V.04.01

Ratings Updates

  • The Encompass Rating System comes out of beta on the anniversary of the launch in which we launch the first version of the 4th and final beacon, Leadership & Adaptability.
  • The first version of the Leadership & Adaptability methodology looks at the following domains and metrics:
    • Strategy (40% of overall score) - The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking and goal setting. We ask the organization to share the following elements of strategy: Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and Strategic Goals.
    • Leadership (30% of overall score) - The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development and mobilizing resources for mission.
    • Adaptability (30%) - The nonprofit has an opportunity to tell the story of how the organization adapted to tremendous external changes in the last year.

Profile Page Updates

  • Leadership & Adaptability scores are in the dashboard and the Leadership & Adaptability section.
  • The Leadership & Adaptability section is now populated with the metrics and responses from nonprofits that submitted data for evaluation.

June 28, 2021 - V.03.03

Ratings Updates

  • None

Profile Page Updates

  • Much of the explainer text about the Encompass Rating System and the methodology was streamlined for ease of use to display the rating and underlying metrics. The explanation for the methodology exists elsewhere on the site.
  • The top of the page is reformatted to more quickly display the essential information about a nonprofit organization.

June 14, 2021 - V.03.02

Ratings Updates

  • None

Profile Page Updates

  • Links for nonprofit organizations under "Is this your organization?" on profile page changed to direct organizations to the nonprofit portal. Previously, there were two links: a link for nonprofit organizations to pick up their ratings toolkit and a link to provide impact data.

March 1, 2021 - Major Release - V.03.01

Ratings Updates

  • The first version of the Culture & Community Beacon launched with an evaluation of Constituent Feedback practices. This is a light touch measure intended to encourage nonprofits to begin collecting feedback, if they don?t already, or reflect on their current feedback practices as a means of advancing or improving their practices. Participation is voluntary, however organizations that complete the survey will be rewarded with a full 100 point score for sharing their information publicly. Organizations that do not collect feedback or do not submit their data to Candid will not be penalized.
    • Charity Navigator partnered with Feedback Labs, Candid, Global Giving, Fund for Shared Insight, and Keystone Accountability to develop a tool for learning more about how nonprofits are collecting feedback, and how they are listening to their constituents. This partnership will continue to build a next version of the methodology that will evaluate the quality of constituent feedback practices.
    • As the requirements to achieve the beacon are minimal (filling out a brief survey on Candid?s How We Listen section), our initial weight for the beacon is a low 5%. Furthermore, we will not give an overall Encompass Rating for only having Constituent Feedback data. One or both of the other two beacons must also be evaluated to receive an overall score.
  • The second version of the Finance & Accountability Beacon released with 4 additional Accountability and Transparency metrics and relaxed scoring on the financial metrics. The data for this beacon remains completed derived from the IRS Form 990.
    • Those organizations that have Liabilities to Assets Ratio and Program Expense Ratio within 10% of the current passing mark will receive half credit. For example, a passing Program Expense ratio is set at 70% program spend. We now give half credit for organizations that spend 60-69% of their resources on program.
      • The new Accountability & Transparency metrics include:
      • Documents board meeting minutes
      • Whistleblower policy
      • Conflict of interest policy
      • Records retention and destruction policy
  • For a complete explanation of the methodology please read our Encompass Rating System Beta V3 Ratings Briefs

Profile Page Updates

  • Culture & Community Score placed on the dashboard and within the Culture & Community Section.
  • The additional metrics in the Finance & Accountability Beacon were added to the report in that section.

January 11, 2021 - V.02.03

Ratings Updates

  • None

Profile Page Updates

  • Profile pages now include Constituent Feedback practices in anticipation of evaluating the responses for the first version of the Culture and Community Beacon.
  • The data comes from How We Listen on Candid, to whom we provide a link with an encouragement to nonprofit organizations to complete that section of their Candid profile.
  • The go back to old version of profile page link has been removed from the new profile pages.

December 4, 2020 - V.02.02

Ratings Updates

  • In the Encompass Rating Section, we now explain the weighting between beacons that make up the overall rating. For organizations that have both available beacons, the organization's Impact & Results score contributes 60% of the overall score, while its Finance & Accountability score contributes 40%. For organizations that have either beacon scored but not both, the overall score is equal to the score of the one beacon evaluated.

Profile Page Updates

  • In the Finance & Accountability section, a new unscored Additional Information section has been added that includes the following:
    • Revenue and Expense bar chart for last three years of Total Revenue and Total Expense of the organization.
    • Key Staff Compensation Report that lists the names, titles and compensation of up to five of the organization's highest compensated employees listed on page 7 of the Form 990. This compensation data is displayed exactly how it is listed on the Form 990 that the organization filed with the IRS. The amounts include salary, cash bonuses, and expense accounts. The amounts do not include non-taxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on Form W-2.
    • Moved the IRS form 990 PDF for the past five years into this unscored section.
  • We reduced the font size in order to condense the interface to fit the increasing amount of data displayed on nonprofit profile pages.

October 14, 2020 - Major Release - V.02.01 Encompass Rating System

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • First version of the Impact & Results beacon released, with 710 nonprofits receiving an Impact & Results score in the Encompass Rating System. This is a milestone for Charity Navigator, our first evaluation of impact, enabled through the acquisition of Impact Matters.
  • Launched waitlist for Impact & Results scores, allowing nonprofits to share their contact information with Charity Navigator and express interest in providing the impact information necessary to obtain an Impact & Results score.
  • The iconography of the dashboard changed to bring clarity to passing beacon scores.
    • Passing scores will result in a filled in beacon icon.
    • Failing scores will show an outline version of the beacon icon.
    • Those beacons in which we do not have appropriate methodology or data available for evaluation will also have an outline version of the beacon icon and will not affect the overall score.
    • Community & Culture beacon and Leadership & Adaptability beacon will show outline beacon indicators as the methodology is not yet developed.

Profile Page Updates

  • New version of the Impact & Results section to accommodate the new scores includes new data fields to represent the ImpactMatters methodology.
  • Impact & Results related data from IRS form 990 and partner organizations is rendered in a separate section below the scored data.
  • Added a section at the top of the page that includes links for nonprofits to publicize their ratings and submit impact data.
  • Messages about why an organization is not evaluated are now beacon-specific and live within the context of beacon details section.
  • Added NTEE code categorization to the top region that provides the basic information on the nonprofit organization.

September 28, 2020 - V.01.07 Encompass Rating System

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • Clearer messaging on reasons why a nonprofit organization is not rated in the Encompass Rating System.

Profile Page Updates

  • Added links to the last 5 years of IRS form 990s (in pdf format) in a tab in the Finance and Accountability report. When the IRS form 990 is listed as a source on other parts of the page, the source message is linked to the tab with the IRS form 990s.
  • Added voting mechanisms for organizations that are eligible for rating in the 2.1 Star Rating system.

August 20, 2020 - V.01.06 Encompass Rating System

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • Rendered impact data from Candid/GuideStar for organizations that receive Platinum and Gold Seals of Transparency.  
  • Impact data from ImpactMatters rendered on the page.

Profile Page Updates

  • Small content enhancements and improvements as explainer texts.

July 29, 2020 - Official Launch of Encompass Ratings System - V.01.05

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • The system launched today with 152,236 nonprofits receiving their first-ever Charity Navigator ratings

Profile Page Updates

  • Improved explanation links for Encompass Ratings System including links to the Announcement, FAQs, and Release Notes.
  • The Take-away Graphic for newly rated nonprofit organizations is available for download from a link listed on the page.
  • We encourage newly rated organizations to pick up their badge and proudly display via their fundraising and promotional materials. Moved the link to find the older version of the page from the side dashboard to the About section.

July 24, 2020 - V.01.04 Encompass Rating System

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • The top level Encompass Rating System score graphic is now visible on each profile page of a nonprofit that receives the new rating.
    • All passing scores will be marked with 'Give with Confidence' above the score. A circle around the numerical score is filled in based on the score received.
    • Passing scores will fill the scale in with a green color. Scales that don't pass will fill in the scale with a dark gray color.
    • The passing score is 75. There is a mark on the scale to show the passing mark.
  • Encompass Rating applied to top level rating with a small helper link that brings the user to the brief description of the Ecnompass Rating System on the nonprofit profile page.
  • Final Charity Navigator Advisory System placement and graphics complete and rendered on page.
    • Low and Moderate Concern Advisories are overlaid on the Encompass Score.
    • Advisory description is placed above rating information on the profile page.
    • A High Concern Advisory will wipe the rating and any corresponding data from the page.
    • The side dashboard and advisory detail section wrapped in border with color corresponding to Advisory: Yellow - Low, Orange - Medium, Red - High.
  • Nonprofits have a badge accessible to them on their nonprofit profile page that they may use on their website, and other marketing and fundraising collateral.
  • Improved handling and messages for organizations that Charity Navigator does not currently rate.

Profile Page Updates

  • Redesigned header region is condensed to display the organization's name without a background image.
  • Mission statement moved up the page to directly under the organization name.
  • Web address and mailing address moved together on same line in organization description section.
  • Small enhancement to spacing of dashboard.

July 17, 2020 - V.01.03 Encompass Rating System

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • We introduce the name for the system in this update! Encompass Rating System, is the new name, which will remain in a beta state until we have measures in each one of the indicator (beacon) areas.
  • The beacon icons are visible in the dashboard.
  • Advisories have been styled on the page
    • The Charity Navigator Advisory System received a redesign of the advisory visuals which overlay the Encompass Rating.
    • The Advisory Details section is placed underneath the organizational information section.
    • High advisory organizations will not be eligible to receive an Encompass Rating.
  • Our first placement of charts in a beacon report details section:organizational expense breakdowns for the last three years that can be found in the Program Expense section of the Finance & Accountability Report.

Profile Page Updates

  • Each beacon section has a color-coded border that wraps the beacon details sections.
  • Small improvements to spacing of information and other layout fixes.
  • Back to the top is included in each beacon section to support page navigation.

July 10, 2020 - V.01.02 New Rating System

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • Initial layout and explanation of the four indicator (beacon) system
    • All four beacons listed on ratings dashboard.
    • The beacons all have descriptions that can be accessed through the dashboard by clicking on “See Details”.
    • Initial description of each indicator is listed in the details section.
    • Note: Beacon names and topics subject to modification and change based on user feedback.
  • Impact & Results section created:
    • Programs listed with amount and percentage spent on each program. This data is drawn from IRS form 990.
    • Details section built with placeholders for partner data on program impact and results.  
  • Top-level ratings explanation developed that provides an overview of the new rating system, the overall score of the organization, and whether the organization passed the current version of the rating system. 

Profile Page Updates

  • Added additional organizational information including: organizational mailing address, IRS nonprofit designation and classification, organizational mission, and IRS nonprofit status ruling year.
  • All four Beacon detail sections now part of page layout.
  • Top-level ratings explanation section and score on page.

June 30, 2020 - V.01.01 - Public Beta Launch

To learn more about our new rating system, read the series documenting our approach and process in our blog.

Ratings Updates

  • Overall experimental rating score on 100 point scale provides to approximately 135,000 organizations, of which ~100,000 organizations pass.
  • Version 1 of Finance & Accountability indicator (beacon) released with five underlying measures that provide a baseline measure of organizational stability and sustainability:
    • Program Expense Ratio (25 points)
    • Liabilities to Assets Ratio (15 points)
    • Independent Board (25 points)
    • Independent Audit or External Financial Review (25 points)
    • Website Address Listed on IRS Form 990 (10 points)
  • This initial Finance & Accountability beacon is a completely automated measure leveraged data from IRS form 990.  Charity Navigator requires three years of e-filed IRS data, but there are no other eligibility criteria.  
  • Financial detail section completed with:
    • Financial scoring highlights with high impact, low impact and no impact. 
    • Underlying financial report that includes a detailed description of each metric with associated scoring.
  • Impact & Results beacon rendered without any data. 

Profile Page Updates

  • Completely redesigned nonprofit profile page released for 1.6 million nonprofit organizations.
  • Ratings dashboard as the focal point for our ratings that also acts as the page navigation that allows users to see more details within each beacon.
  • Responsive new theme implemented that adjusts cleanly across desktop, tablet, and mobile versions.
  • A revamped and more modern color palette to accompany modern page design.
  • Redesigned top menu and footer.

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