An increasing number of consumers turn to review sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, before making a purchase or planning their next trip. Statistics from 2014 show that people are willing to read as many as 10 different reviews before making a decision. Reputation, often measured through star ratings, “like” counts, and positive and negative reviews, drives the nonprofit sector, as well.
Determining which charity to support, whether through a commitment of time or resources, is similar to deciding where to buy a new appliance or which hotel to stay in. Fortunately, several organizations have formed to help consumers through the decision process.
These groups focus on the metrics that people care about most, such as reputability and overall impact. With the information provided, people can search through databases to find which nonprofits align with their interests and priorities. Here is a list of eight sites where anyone interested in charity work can get started.
The team at GreatNonprofits has curated one of the largest index sites for nonprofit reviews. Searchable by keyword, the site is designed to help donors gain confidence in their decisions.
Nonprofits benefit from GreatNonprofits, as well, as it allows groups to post their information, solicit reviews, and display the GreatNonprofits Badge on their page, symbolizing a commitment to transparency. Charities may also qualify for the Top-Rated Nonprofit seal, which can generate even more traffic for their site.
- Root Cause
On the Root Cause website, visitors gain unique insight into the value and impact of social organizations through research data. The same data shows how nonprofits compare to one another in terms of efficacy.
In addition, staff members collaborate with a number of philanthropic and governmental entities to help them decide where to invest their money. Root Cause works with a variety of clients, placing an emphasis on the health, education, and employment sectors.
- Giving Library
First-time guests to the Giving Library website can sign up for a library card for free. This card allows people to search and save the organizations that match their interests. One interesting feature of the site is the Matcher, which allows visitors to click a Spin button and become acquainted with a random charity. If you’d like to narrow your search, the Matcher lets you select preferences, such as the size of the organization.
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation
For nearly 70 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has endeavored to improve the lives of children in the United States by focusing on issues related to education, poverty, and health care. The KIDS COUNT Network produces data through research to help local nonprofits and organizations advocate for children more efficiently. Each state in the US, as well as in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, has a KIDS COUNT chapter. Anyone interested in the program can search what areas need help the most in their area.
- Charity Navigator
A duo of social entrepreneurs, Pat and Marion Dugan, founded Charity Navigator in 2001 to fill the void of a reliable resource for nonprofit information. The organization endeavors to “guide intelligent giving” by equipping donors with objective evaluations of groups in the charity sector.
Charity Navigator maintains transparency in its methodology for reviewing nonprofits, allowing website visitors to see not only individual ratings but also the vehicle employed to arrive at those conclusions. Along with this feature, the site features a comprehensive section of Top 10 lists, which rank charities by size, popularity, financial activity, etc. Visitors will also find a tab for current and urgent events that need support around the country.
- BBB Wise Giving Alliance
Although the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) does not assign rankings, the organization provides standard-based evaluations of roughly 1,300 nonprofits. These reports can be found online as well as in the Wise Giving Guide, a magazine published every four months.
Launched in 2007, the GiveWell project has since grown into one of the top sources for rating charities. Team members perform rigorous research to identify organizations that present the best opportunities for donors to support. In this effort, GiveWell aims to achieve a balanced review and capture the overall strength of each charity.
Originally known as the American Institute of Philanthropy, CharityWatch has operated for more than 20 years. The organization takes pride in its strict evaluation standards that provide insight into the strength and efficacy of nonprofits, measured by letter grades from A+ to F. These grades take into account multiple variables, such as marketing expenses, transparency, and management of non-cash contributions. Additionally, CharityWatch aims to inform the public by assisting with interpreting financial percentages published by charities.