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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JANUARY FEBRUARY 2015

17

T

he start of a new year is a good time to reassess

our charitable giving. With the thousands of

charities operating in the United States, the task of

choosing a worthy cause can be daunting. Most peo-

ple don’t have time or inclination to scour through a

charity’s website to find overhead numbers, expense

breakdowns, annual revenue or CEO salaries—yet we

value charities that are transparent and clear about

their mission and how they plan to accomplish it.

There are thousands of small charities scattered

throughout the country. Is anyone keeping track of their

performance? Since 2001,

Charity Navigator

(Charitynavi

gator.org ) has been keeping donors, and potential donors,

informed. The site aims to “advance a more eªcient and

responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and

the charities they support work in tandem.”

The site evaluates a charity’s performance with a rating

system that examines the charity’s financial health, account-

ability and transparency. The ratings evaluate eªciency with

donor funds, sustainability of the program and service over

time, and how open it is with information. These ratings can

help people make informed decisions about donating to all

types of charities, large and small and in numerous catego-

ries. The Top 10 lists include “10 Charities Expanding in a

Hurry,”“10 CharitiesWorthWatching,” and “10 Charities in

Deep Financial Trouble.”

Charity Navigator

only evaluates organizations that are

tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue

Code, have been in existence for at least seven years and are

SITE OF THE MONTH:

Charity Navigator

“Faces of Diplomacy” Exhibit at the State Department.

AFSA/Lindsey Botts

e U.S. Diplomacy Center’s aim is to

highlight the achievements and role of the

Foreign Service, Civil Service and other

colleagues contributing to this work, as

well as promote understanding of the chal-

lenges they face.

e November exhibit invited visi-

tors to take an in-depth look at howU.S.

diplomacy a ects our everyday lives. We

learn about individuals, what they do and

how they work tomove U.S. foreign policy

forward.

based in the United States.

The site assesses a charity’s

financial information based on

its IRS 990 forms. A charity

will receive a high score (4

out of 4 stars) if it is deemed

financially eªcient, spends

less money to raise more and

devotes the majority of its

spending to the programs and services it exists to provide.

The site also assesses transparency, which it defines

as “an obligation or willingness by a charity to explain its

actions to its stakeholders and publish critical data about

the organization,” by performing a comprehensive review

of the charity’s website and IRS forms. Charities that are

completely transparent are more likely to act with integ-

rity and strive to accomplish their mission and are unlikely

to mismanage donations or engage in other unethical

practices.

Last year alone, the site was visited approximately

seven million times. As a tool for those interested in the

nonprofit sector, this website is an excellent resource. The

comprehensive analyses of a multitude of charities the site

provides allow donors to select worthy causes. Through

Charity Navigator

’s work, millions of people can funnel

their donations to high-performing, reputable organiza-

tions and thereby help to solve the world’s most pressing

problems more quickly.

—Trevor Smith,

FSJ

Editorial Intern

e exhibit

adds a human

aspect to what

is, for many

Americans,

a mysterious

world.

n

—Lindsey

Botts, Labor

Management

Executive

Assistant