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Director of Communications

(401) 831-7700 x101
[email protected]

Thursday, April 25, 2002
New Charity Watchdog Gives Red Cross Highest Rating

The American Red Cross received an "exceptional rating" from Charity Navigator, a new nonprofit organization working to help people make more informed decisions about the charities to which they donate. Receiving four out of four possible stars, the Red Cross was awarded the highest rating, exceeding industry standards and outperforming most charities in the new nonprofit's database.

Charity Navigator helps charitable givers make "intelligent giving decisions" by providing information on more than eleven hundred charities and by evaluating the financial health of each of these charities. The information is provided free of charge on the organization's Web site,

"We are honored to receive an exceptional rating from Charity Navigator," said John Ricottilli, Chair, Board of the Directors, American Red Cross of Rhode Island. "Here in Rhode Island, our Red Cross volunteers assist hundreds of families each year who have been displaced by house fires. We also teach Rhode Islanders to save lives, through classes like CPR, First Aid, Babysitting and Automated External Defibrillation."

The mission of Charity Navigator is to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace. Ultimately, the organization hopes to revolutionize the entire charitable marketplace.

The organization uses five guidelines for choosing which charities to evaluate: Tax Status: Charity Navigator evaluates organizations granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Sources of Revenue: Only charities seeking support from individual givers are evaluated. Type of Programs: To match the diversity of givers' interests, all types of charities are evaluated. Location: Charity Navigator evaluates charities from all over the United States. Size: More than 1,100 of America's largest charities are evaluated -- those organizations that appeal to vast networks of individual givers for support and in whose success large numbers of individual givers have an interest.

"We think our country's largest non-profit organizations should be treated with the same level of accountability as publicly traded for-profit companies," Charity Navigator states on its web site. "We think that charities are the key to this country's future. Our government is getting smaller, our societies more polarized and insular. For this country to stay great, we will be dependent on charities to provide the services we need. And those charities will be dependent on the individual giver. And the giver deserves to be treated like his dollar is valued, and this marketplace is serious. When that is done, we all win."

The founders believe that the current system for monitoring the activity of charities is insufficient and that improvements must be made in government regulation of charities, in the work of charity evaluators, and in the Tax Form 990. In the increasingly competitive world of fundraising, the individual giver is dependent on the help of oversight agencies for accessing and understanding this information. Charity Navigator wants to change the way the donor receives their information, so the mystery is removed.

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