Make Your Dollars Count in Donating to Alzheimer's, Caregiving Charities

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Last weekend, I participated in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in my area. I was pleased to see lots of people participating and felt that the event not only raised money but awareness about this terrible disease. But when you raise funds for a non-profit, you can easily begin to wonder whether these funds are really making a difference. And as we approach the end of the fiscal year when many people are considering donating their hard-earned dollars to charity, it’s important to do your homework.

    That’s where Charity Navigator comes in. Charity Navigator evaluates the financial health, accountability and transparency of America’s largest charities. According to its website, “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….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.”

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    Charity Navigator announced in September that it would begin to utilize a formula that provides a two-dimension rating system.  “In designing the new system, our goal was to both be fair to the charities we rate while also creating a tool that was the most effective at helping donors identify charities that are more or less risky social investments,” the organization’s website states. “We believed it was important to establish a system of scoring that would reflect our conviction that the highest performing charities are those that excel in all areas, not just one. In other words, we sought out a revised rating system that would ensure that charities that score very poorly in one dimension, but well in the other, could not score high overall.”

    In determining this rating, Charity Navigator analyzes three key aspects– financial efficiency, accountability and transparency. Financial efficiency is based on seven performance metrics, which include program expenses, administration expenses, fundraising expenses, fundraising efficiency, primary revenue growth, program expenses growth, and working capital ratio. Accountability is “an obligation or willingness by a charity to explain its actions to its stakeholders,” Charity Navigator’s website stated. Currently, the organization looks at the fiduciary accountability of charities, but plans eventually to evaluate other areas such as results reporting and how the non-profit use the resources raised to accomplish its mission. Transparency is rated based on the charity’s willingness to publish and make available critical data about the organization. “We believe that charities that are accountable and transparent are more likely to act with integrity and learn from their mistakes because they want donors to know that they’re trustworthy,” the website stated.

  • So how did various non-profits that have a mission related to Alzheimer’s disease and/or caregiving score? Here are some of the results:

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    • The Alzheimer’s Association. Charity Navigator calculated an overall rating of three stars (with a score of 50.55 overall score). This association received a 43.40 score for financial efficiency and a 64.00 score for accountability and transparency.
    • The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. This charity received a three-star rating, with an overall score of 54.04. This non-profit received a 53.14 rating for financial efficiency and a 55.00 rating for accountability and transparency.
    • Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. This charity received a four-star rating, with an overall score of 69.08. This organization’s financial efficiency score was 68.71 and its accountability and transparency score was 70.00.
    • The National Caregiving Foundation. This charity received a one-star rating, with an overall score of 25.53. The organization’s financial efficiency score was 41.38 while its accountability and transparency score was 14.00.

    There are a number of other organizations related to Alzheimer’s, caregiving and research in the Charity Navigator database. My point in writing this sharepost is that we all want to end Alzheimer’s and there are a number of non-profits that are vying for our donations in order to make their mark. As the giving season of giving approaches, I’d encourage you to make an informed decision about which non-profit gets your money.

Published On: November 08, 2011