Charity Navigator Looks to Future After 20 Years of Guiding Intelligent Giving
It’s been 20 years since Charity Navigator was born, filling a void in which regular people had few tools to vet charities.
John (Pat) Dugan, who made his fortune providing sales forces for pharmaceutical firms, was shocked in the late 1990s to find there was no organization to evaluate charities – so he invented that organization himself. His vision, Charity Navigator, went live in April 2002 and had 150,000 visitors that year.
Fast forward to today, and as Charity Navigator embarks into its third decade, more than 11 million visitors use it, and the organization is offering those visitors more than they ever have, and still for free. Plenty has happened in between, but the constants have been Charity Navigator’s transparency and impartiality both for donors and charities.
Charity Navigator is itself a charity, relying on everyday donors to fuel its work and on grants for larger projects from the likes of Google.org, the Bill and Melinda French Gates Foundation, and MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett. The largest and newest of those projects is Charity Navigator’s rejuvenation, featuring a much more useful search engine to find charities, a broadened rating system, and a refreshed, easier-to-use website.
Way back in April 2002, when Charity Navigator went live, it focused on the financial health of just 1,100 charities. Although that’s a pittance compared to the nearly 200,000 it rates now, that immediately made the organization the largest independent charity evaluator. Over the years, it gradually expanded its mission to evaluate how well charities kept donors’ personal information private, offered donors the ability to give through its website, looked at charities’ long-term fiscal well-being, warned donors about reported and confirmed misconduct.
In July 2020, Charity Navigator introduced its Encompass Rating System, which gives a more complete view of the work charities do, and expanded the number of charities it rates from 9,000 to 160,000. The Encompass Rating System, still in use, focuses on four beacons: Leadership & Adaptability, Accountability & Finance, Impact & Results, and Culture & Community.
And now, shortly after the debut of a freshened website that features a more powerful and flexible search engine, Charity Navigator is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a hybrid event that will also raise money for highly rated charities.
As the next chapters of Charity Navigator unfold, it expects to cement its legacy of helping donors do the most good for the causes they care about, by helping them find charities they had not known about, become confident in those organizations, and spread their generosity through the site’s Giving Basket. It’s Charity Navigator’s goal that everyday donors be able to give with the same resources and confidence as the wealthiest philanthropists.
When that happens, Charity Navigator – through its donors – will make a meaningful impact on the world’s most intractable problems as it empowers donors to give easily, thoughtfully and confidently.
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of the staff of NonProfit PRO.