Michael Thatcher: Rating charities
April 13, 2023
In this episode we talk to Michael Thatcher, CEO of US nonprofit rating service Charity Navigator, about why and how the organisation tries to help people to choose charities more effectively. Including:
- What is Charity Navigator? What is its mission and what services does it offer to try to achieve that goal?
- What criteria does the Charity Navigator rating system encompass?
- What are the biggest challenges when it comes to gathering and providing data on nonprofit organisations?
- What are the key audiences for charity ratings and how do they use the information?
- Can ratings systems help to address the problem of donors focusing on unhelpful measures like overhead ratios?
- How do growing debates about whether measurement in the non-profit world too often becomes a tool for reinforcing the power dynamics between donors and recipients affect the work of charity ratings services and platforms?
- One of the functions of a rating service like Charity Navigator is to help keep people safe from charity fraud. How do you do this in a way that boosts trust in non-profits, rather than contributing to cynicism?
- Are nonprofit platforms neutral intermediaries, or do they have a role in shaping giving to make it more effective/equitable?
- What role does Charity Navigator play in disaster/crisis response? What specific challenges does this pose?
- Do platforms like Charity Navigator have any role in rebalancing inequities in how funding is distributed (i.e. by highlighting under-resourced cause areas or geographies)?
- What responsibilities do platforms bear for the choice of which organisations do and don’t make it onto their lists? Is it ever necessary to take decisions to exclude certain organisations, even where they are legal?
- With increasing focus on giving to social movements, grassroots organisations and even individuals, does Charity Navigator have any plans to expand its ratings beyond traditional non-profits?
- What new possibilities might emerging tech offer for Charity Navigator's work in the future?