Recently, Charity Navigator, which is the nation’s largest independent evaluator of nonprofits, gave St. Vincent de Paul Chicago a four star rating, the best they can give. That rating can only be claimed by about one quarter of the nonprofits rated by the organization, and is predicated on a complex matrix of qualifications.
Charity Navigator is concerned with, among other things, accountability and transparency. They rate charities based upon how well they uphold industry best practices, and their metrics are designed to determine not only how well a charity raises money, but how they spend that money, and how they claim to be spending that money. 17 metrics focused solely on accountability and transparency make up half of the system, putting significant weight on how well a charity relates to donors.
It’s important that donors know how their money is being spent, in order to make sure that they want to donate to a given charity. And key to that is transparency. By being honest about how money is spent, charities show their donors that they’re worth trusting. Nonprofits that don’t disclose how they spend their money come off as less trustworthy, whether they’re fraudulent or not.
St. Vincent de Paul Chicago joins the ranks of four star charities because of their continued dedication to alleviating poverty in Cook and Lake counties of Illinois. They have performed that mission with the utmost dedication to transparency and accountability, using industry best practices and holding to an ethical code.
Unfortunately, there are many charities that fall outside of that four star rating. Some are simply too small or too new to get accurate readings for and some are considered fraudulent because of a refusal to engage with transparency. Fraudulent nonprofits, the kind that routinely crop up in the news, tend not to be particularly forthright with how they spend the money they raise.