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Charity Ratings: The Full Picture

How do you pick a charity to support? How do you determine its worth? 

Is it the urgency of its mission? Its relevancy to your life, and the lives of those you love? Do you look for a way to measure the real-world impact it’s having? Or do you make your decision based on how swiftly and efficiently a charity is making progress towards its goals?

When it comes to choosing charities to support, you’re faced with many such questions. And over the last decade, it’s become increasingly clear that you won’t find all of the answers in an annual report, or a Form 990.

The results a charity gets, the impact it makes upon the world, can’t be found in financial ratios and overhead costs alone.  Those numbers are important, but they tell only a fraction of the whole story.

Let’s take a look at two groups that rate charities like the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB Wise Giving Alliance)

AICR meets all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability set by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. As such, we proudly earn the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance National Charity Seal.

The BBB adopts a comprehensive approach, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative analysis in its rating process.

The BBB investigates an organization’s governance and oversight, quality and accuracy of materials, financial efficiency and much more.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator, in its core method of evaluation, ignores accounting standards known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and still relies on an outmoded method of expense classification, often restating a charity's audited financial statements. Worse, it does not factor in the demonstrable reach and effectiveness of our research and education efforts.

Currently, AICR earns a zero rating from Charity Navigator. Even Charity Navigator, itself, doesn’t endorse its own methods, having publicly stated that focusing on overhead is a poor way to measure a charity’s performance.

Charity Navigator has also stated that they will be changing their methods in the coming years with more focus on an attempt to measure impact.

For more information, please read the ethics statement released by the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation regarding Charity Navigator and its practices.

Our Commitment

Here at AICR, we are committed to transparency, accountability and efficiency. We adhere to the Donor Bill of Rights and accepted best practice standards, and we meet every Standard for Charity Accountability set by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Thank You

We appreciate that you are taking the time to learn more about the American Institute for Cancer Research than a simple and potentially misleading rating can reveal.

Published on December 18, 2013

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Richard Ensminger

Richard K. Ensminger

Director of Planned Giving

Ann Wrenshall Worley

Ann Wrenshall Worley

Assistant Director of Planned Giving

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