Americans nationwide are opening their pocketbooks at the billion – not million – dollar level communally. Climbing that corporate (or non-profit) ladder, you now find yourself able to join this community of givers…working hard, living securely, and giving back freely. But do you donate to your university? An environmental cause? Or maybe to international development? With thousands of organizations to choose from, all needing continual support for operational stability, you’ll need to turn to Charity Navigator as the one-stop shop of charitable and non-profit research. Fully investigating charities’ fiscal fitness, this web-based non-profit allows the user to sit back comfortably while making an informed decision on philanthropic giving. Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator weeds those non-profits looking only to make a quick dollar on uninformed, yet well-intentioned, donors and instead offers a thoroughly vetted list of quality aid organizations. Read our Nonprofit Spotlight to learn more on the history of this service and how it will help you leap forward into that fine world of philanthropy.
Masters in Public Policy
University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A. in Law & Society
Teach For America
Social Security Administration
Presidential Management Fellow
Teach For America (North Carolina)
Public School Teacher
U.S. Representative Robert Matsui
Tell us about the non-profit
Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. We help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing information on over five thousand charities and by evaluating the financial health of each of these charities. We ensure our evaluations are widely used by making them easy to understand and available to the public free of charge. By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s most persistent challenges.
Charity Navigator has become the nation’s largest and most-used evaluator of American charities and non-profits. More than four million donors use the site that Time Magazine called “One of America’s 50 Coolest Websites for 2006.” Additionally, the site is a two-time Forbes award winner for “Best of the Web,” was selected by Reader’s Digest as one of the “100 Best Things About America,” and was chosen by PC World as “One of America’s Top Sites for 2006.” Charity Navigator was singled out in 2006 by Kiplinger’s Financial Magazine as “One of the Best Services To Make Life Easier” and Esquire Magazine recently told its readers that using Charity Navigator was one of “41 Ways To Save The World.”
Charity Navigator is America’s largest and most-utilized charity evaluator.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I have final authority for all aspects of the organization, including all personnel decisions, board management, public relations, marketing, charity data analysis, fundraising, web site development, human resources, constituent relations, database management, industry studies, strategic planning, and external representation of organization. I am the direct manager of 12 employees and an ex-officio member of Charity Navigator Board of Directors.
I regularly appear as a regular expert television analyst for both The Factor with Bill O’Reilly and all CNN shows. I have provided opinion and commentary for each of the network morning shows – NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS’s The Early Show and also appeared on FOX News, CNBC, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, among others, and served as a regular contributor to National Public Radio programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I was profiled in Fast Company magazine, Contribute, CFO Magazine, and The Washington Post, and quoted in nearly every major American newspaper or weekly magazine. I have published editorials and articles on charity issues, the role of government regulation in the charitable sector, fund-raising ethics, and non-profit leadership in over 50 newspapers, journals, and magazines, including The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and The Los Angeles Times.
I am a regular presenter and speaker at many national conferences and seminars on issues affecting the non-profit sector, including the future of American philanthropy, board leadership, accountability, transparency, the correlation between efficiency and efficacy, the need for national professional standards for charities, ethical fundraising, and the role of government in charity regulation. I am also the author of “Trent Stamp’s Take”, a widely-read blog about the non-profit sector.
Most notable milestones
I would say our role in identifying reputable and high-performing charities in the days after Hurricane Katrina. It became the largest philanthropic response in the history of the world in terms of money donated and I like to think we played a small part in that, in identifying the best groups that were out there and using our website and the national media to celebrate their good works.
What’s the niche? How does it support the community?
We’re the only people who really do what we do, on a massive national scale. Our sole purpose is to evaluate, identify, and rate charities, so donors can avoid those that are less than worthy, and steer their money toward those who will spend it in the most efficient and effective manner.
What’s the biggest challenge?
It’s ironic, but it’s very hard to raise money for what we do. We’re a non-profit ourselves, and don’t take any money from the charities we evaluate or the donors who use our site. However, we have to pay our bills and that’s a struggle.
What’s in store for the future?
We’d like to expand both the numbers of charities we rate and the amount of information we provide on each of those charities.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
Get up while it’s still dark outside.
Guiding principle in life
You cannot listen to the critics and the naysayers.
Yardstick of success
The charitable donors who contact us every single day to thank us for helping them find good charities.
Goal yet to be achieved
Drive every rogue and outlaw from the charity world.
Best practical advice
Watch your kids sleep every once in a while; it puts everything else in perspective.
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
My father encouraged me to never settle for being ordinary.
John and Marion Dugan, who first thought of Charity Navigator and had the courage to fund it.
What motivated you to get started?
We knew there had to be a better way. Why should charities be the only industry in this country to avoid being rated and evaluated by an impartial outsider? Before we buy a car, send our kids to college, buy a stock, or go to a movie, we consult a third-party reviewer. Why shouldn’t we do this with charitable contributions too?
Like best about what you do?
The people I work with at Charity Navigator.
Like least about what you do?
Having to wear long pants every day.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a professional baseball player. What boy didn’t?
What was your first job?
I worked in a bowling alley. Yes, I was the guy who sprayed the shoes.
Biggest pastime outside of work? Favorite Hobby?
I like to ride horses, grow giant pumpkins, dance with my wife, take my kids to baseball games, and eat vast amounts of pudding.
Person most interested in meeting?
I’d like to meet my wife’s father. He died before I met her, and I’d just like to thank him for the work he did in bringing her into my life.
Leader in business most interested in meeting?
I’d like to meet Bill Gates, to see if he’d like to help us do our work, and to see if we could help him do his, as he attempts to give away more money than anyone has ever given away, in the history of mankind.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I have completed two marathons (despite weighing over 225 pounds).
- According to New Jersey Business Magazine, I am one of 40 Leaders Under 40 in the state.
- I was born with only one kidney.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- My family
- Trying to help America’s charitable donors make informed and intelligent giving decisions.
My favorite book is “The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy. It’s messy, gothic, all over the place, and unforgettable. It’s about life and love, forgiveness, trust, and honor. I named my son after one of the characters in it.
If you could do anything else, what would that job be?
Ideally, I’d be the rightfielder for the Mets. Barring that, I’d like to be president of one of America’s largest foundations, so I could reward those charities that are doing amazing and effective work, and stop the funding of ego-driven, irrelevant projects that do nothing longterm but make funders feel like ivory tower academics.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Personally, I’d like the New York Mets to contact me to see if I want to play right field for them.
Professionally, I’d love to find some high net-worth individuals or companies that like the work we do and are willing to fund our continued efforts to promote transparency and accountability in the non-profit sector.