Nonprofit Naughty or Nice List

By Katie Cray

I have my favorite nonprofits, and I’m sure you do too. For years I thought that two of the biggest names in animal welfare were using the money I donated to rescue animals. Turns out I was wrong. When it comes to animal rescue, giving locally to smaller rescues and no-kill shelters is the way to really help those sad eyes in the big name commercials. I’m sure you have your favorite charities too, but don’t forget to do a little digging before reaching into your pockets.

Charity Navigator, Charting Impact, Give Well and GuideStar are some of the best tools available to differentiate between the good charities, and the not so nice ones. By evaluating efficiency, cash flow, CEO salaries, and programs, these resources rate nonprofit organization on a scale of corrupt to sainthood.

According to Charity Navigator, there are some very low rated charities paying their CEO’s ghastly amounts. For example, 44.7% of funds of a NYC nonprofit private school go towards administrative expenses –like the CEO’s $302,000 salary. Kind of naughty, don’t you think? It’s not that uncommon – the CEO of a well-known animal welfare organization based in NYC makes over $494,000, while at the same time animals are euthanized nearby due to lack of resources. On the flip side, the CEO of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill animal rescue well known for rehabilitating Michael Vick’s dogs, makes just $75,757 (0.21% of all expenses). Charity Navigator pointed out CEO’s of highly rated nonprofits that make significantly less than the average compensation – like the CEO of top-rated Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch, who makes just $43,960. Pretty nice, right?naughty or nice list

santa-checking-his-listWhile there are some unscrupulous organizations out there, many nonprofits on the naughty list below try to do good work – they’ve just made some poor decisions.

Other members of the naughty list include:

  • A nonprofit that provides support to young cancer survivors – Voted most inefficient fundraiser for spending $0.91 for every dollar raised.
  • An organization that provides medical treatment and prevention services – Their working capital is well over (negative) $-930,000,000, meaning what they owe far exceeds their total assets.
  • A nonprofit that disperses religious material (not associated with any church or religion) – Administrative expenses take up 68% of money spent, making them on of the most inefficient organizations when it comes to maximizing donations.
  • A Nonprofit that grants wishes of terminally ill children (NOT Make a Wish Foundation) – Receiving several 0 ratings from Charity Navigator, the charity only spent five cents out of every dollar helping terminally ill children (according to a 2008 IRS report).

Nice List:

  • Cell Phones for Soldiers – grew 79.9% in the last three years
  • PAWS Chicago – Pets Are Worth Saving has earned 4 stars from Charity Navigator for the past ten years in a row
  • Hope For The Warriors – with an extremely high portion of expenses going towards actual programs and high overall ratings, they’re very deserving of a spot on the nice list
  • Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) – they provide insecticide-treated bed nets that prevent cases of and deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, while remaining transparent
  • Pets Alive (and Pets Alive Westchester) – as a key component in the no-kill movement, Pets Alive continues to rescue, rehabilitate, and place animals in need while pushing for animal shelter reform.

We can all give a little to help out those in need, whether it’s your time or pocket change – so check out a few of the nonprofits that made this year’s Nice List. Happy Holidays!