As you plan your giving for the year, you will need to learn a lot about charities. It’s hard to know what to look for, though, and how to determine the legitimacy of a given charity.

There are a lot of tips and tools around, and we’d like to start helping you find the right charity by looking at one of the most useful tools available:

What is Charity Navigator?

Charity Navigator is a sort of search engine tool used for looking through charities and determining the value of gifts given versus how those gifts are used. 

How to Use Charity Navigator?

Using Charity Navigator is a pretty simple task. But here are a few tips to make it even easier.

Searching by Charity Name

You can do a Google or Bing search with the terms “Charity Navigator” and the name of the charity you’re looking into. Or, you can simply go to the Charity Navigator homepage and conduct a search from there.

Since there are many scams that have imitate charity names, as well as other legitimate charities with similar names to the one you’re looking for, be sure to have the name exactly right or you might come up with false or inaccurate results.

Other Ways of Searching for a Charity

Charity Navigator has a variety of helpful tools for those unsure of the charity they would like to consider donating time or money to. Some of these tools include:

  • A blog with helpful tips on giving
  • A top-ten list of most watched charities
  • A top-ten list of celebrity related charities
  • A top-ten list of charities that heavily rely on private donations
  • A top-ten list of charities overpaying for-profit fundraisers
  • A search by category option
  • An up-to-date listing of newly rated charities

If you’re really not sure where to start, you can use one of the lists mentioned, or you could go through the alphabetical list of charities to find a name that strikes a chord with your giving intentions.

Examples from Charity Navigator

With over nine thousand charities reviewed and watched by Charity Navigator, you’ll have plenty of options. But we thought we’d give you few examples, just so you have an idea of what types of information you’ll be able to find on the site.

Charity Navigator Trump Foundation Listing

Immediately when you pull up the Trump Foundation advisory page on Charity Navigator, you will notice a red bar at the top with the note, “CN Advisory: High Concern.” This means that the Charity Navigator has reason to alert the public to something regarding this foundation.

Below this initial advisory alert, you’ll see links to various news articles concerning the reasons that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is ranked “high concern.” These articles come from places like Time, the Washington Post, and New York Times.

Next to this opening tab, you’ll notice a tab for the actual 990 Form filed by the Trump Foundation. You’ll need a membership to view the full document, but snippets are available on the tab.

Finally, beneath this section, you’ll find a list of links to organizations who do similar works but are not rated “high concern.”

Charity Navigator Salvation Army Listing

The Salvation Army is one of the most well-known charities in the country, or perhaps the world. With offices located nearly everywhere, this religious group helps those in need, whether they’re homeless, financially unstable, or elderly and in need of care.

The Salvation Army is not rated on Charity Navigator, and they tell you why: the Salvation Army is not required by the IRS to file the financial form 990. This doesn’t make Salvation Army a bad group or good group, as far as Charity Navigator is concerned.

Charity Navigator ASPCA Listing

Our third example is the listing for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the ASPCA. The ASPCA has an overall score of 83.75, indicating a middling to high rating from Charity Navigator. The page shows mission, financial performance metrics, income statement, accountability and transparency ratings, and various other items to help you understand how the charity rates and why.

This is fairly standard for a moderately or high rated charity on Charity Navigator, but some listings will have different information available, based on the public records found for the organization.

Your Giving

Charity Navigator is one of our top tool choices for finding the right charity. It’s easy to use and understand. It also has over nine thousand charities available for viewing. 

If Charity Navigator doesn’t quite do it for you, though, there are others like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the IRS Non-profit Charities Database, or Guidestar. You can also check out charity related news on the USA Watchdog website.

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