By Heather Mansfield, founder and editor-in-chief of Nonprofit Tech for Good

Seventy-two percent of individuals say that the presence of a charity rating badge increases their likelihood of giving. If your nonprofit does not have charity rating badges on your website, then it’s time to look into getting registered with Charity Navigator, Candid, and GreatNonprofits. All three programs are free to use, accept online donations for your nonprofit, and are nonprofit organizations themselves.

It’s worth noting that Charity Navigator, Candid, and GreatNonprofits are only available to nonprofits based in the United States. If your nonprofit is located outside of the US, then Google “charity ratings [your country name]” to find similar programs.

1) Charity Navigator ::

Founded in 2002, Charity Navigator currently provides information about the financial health, transparency, and accountability of more than 1.6 million nonprofits in the United States and has issued ratings for nearly 200,000 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organizations. To begin, visit their FAQ for Nonprofits and then conduct a search for your nonprofit on Charity Navigator to see if your nonprofit has been rated. To update your profile and access your badge, sign up to access the Nonprofit Portal.

Eligible charities receive a zero to four-star star rating which is determined by the weighted sum of your nonprofit’s beacon scores (0-100), namely: Impact & Results (50%), Accountability & Finance (32.5%), Culture & Community (10%), and Leadership & Adaptability (7.5%).

A visual break down of Charity Navigator rating - by score and stars.

For example, SmileTrain has earned a rare 100% score from Charity Navigator, thus a ★ ★ ★ ★ rating, and placed their badge near the “Donate” button on their donation page(s).

An example of charity rating badges featured near the Donate button on SmileTrain's website.

2) Candid ::

Candid (formerly known as Guidestar) released the first-ever searchable database of nonprofits in 1996 and since then has built one of the most comprehensive, up-to-date databases available to donors, nonprofits, and foundations worldwide. Through their APIs, more than 200 websites that serve the nonprofit sector, such as Network for Good and Global Giving, use Candid in order to quickly validate a nonprofit’s legal status and contact information.

To begin, sign up to update your nonprofit’s Candid profile. You’re nonprofit will then earn a Seal of Transparency based on the level of information provided.

A visual breakdown of the Seals of Transparency offered by for nonprofits.A clever use of a Candid Seal of Transparency is the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) which occasionally promotes and embeds its seal on social media graphics.

A tweet by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation that features an images of a giraffe with a Seal of Transparency.


3) GreatNonprofits ::

Launched in 2007, GreatNonprofits is unique from Charity Navigator and Candid in that their charity rating badges are awarded based on reviews from your donors and supporters. Any nonprofit that gathers 10 or more four or five-star ratings and maintains an overall average of 3.5 stars from January 1 to October 31 each year earns a GreatNonprofits Top-Rated award. It’s worth noting that GreatNonprofits reviews also appear on Candid.

To begin, sign up to claim and set up your nonprofit’s profile and then invite your supporters, donors, and volunteers to write a review. Once you have earned your badge, add it to your nonprofit’s website. For example, Friends of Saguaro National Park is a small nonprofit located in Tucson, AZ that has featured its GreatNonprofits badge on the home page of its website.

The home page of Friends of Saguaro National Park that features a GreatNonprofits badge.

Our Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of website design, email marketing, online fundraising, and social media for nonprofits.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. To earn the certificate, you can attend the webinars live or view the recordings – or a combination of both. Learn more & register!