As year’s-end approaches, Worth partnered with nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator to determine which groups make the most of your money. The organizations on this list have consistently demonstrated financial health and spend a high percentage of their budgets on programming. And due to a new, more rigorous rating system, which tracks accountability and transparency, it’s an entirely new crop at the top this year—including some nonprofits that might surprise you.
01: UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
UM has received 11 consecutive four-star ratings from Charity Navigator.
The private research university has more than 15,000 students and focuses on education. It also has impressive medical facilities: The teaching hospital at its Miller School of Medicine is considered one of the top 50 in the country, and UM has also invested heavily in researching cures for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autism and cancer. With its development of the Life Science & Technology Park, UM hopes to make South Florida a biotech hub.
Founded in 1853, CAS provides for needy children and families in New York City and Westchester County with school, health and social services. To reflect that mission, CAS sold its Greenwich Village buildings in May because the programs housed there had little to do with the upscale neighborhood.
Contact: Kathy Gallagher de Meij, associate director of development firstname.lastname@example.org, 212.949.4945, childrensaidsociety.org
03: SCHOLARSHIP AMERICA
This philanthropy spends less than 1 percent of revenue on fundraising.
Scholarship America’s best known programs include Dollars for Scholars, which helps students pay for college, and the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which has distributed some $70 million to aid families of 9/11 victims.
Contact: Cathy Card Sterling, vice president of development, email@example.com, 952.830.7300, scholarshipamerica.org
04: HARLEM CHILDREN’S ZONE
HCZ evaluates the efficacy of its programs with rigorous, measurable criteria.
Designed to break the cycle of trans-generational poverty in Harlem, the organization provides programs to support children from birth through college. Last year 90 percent of the public school seniors HCZ worked with were accepted into college.
Contact: Mindy Miller, vice president for development, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212.360.3255, hcz.org
05:. ENERGY OUTREACH COLORADO
The annual average of administrative costs at EOC is 4 percent of the budget or less.
A Colorado organization that helps pay utility bills for those in need, EOC also has a sustainable approach to energy affordability: It provides grants to affordable housing communities for energy efficiency upgrades. At the state level, EOC lobbies for affordable energy policies on behalf of low-income consumers.
Contact: Skip Arnold, executive director, email@example.com, 303.226.5050, energyoutreach.org
06: COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL
Compassion International gets 80 percent of its revenue from donors sponsoring children at $38 per month.
CI was founded in 1952 to provide Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education, healthcare and Christian schooling. The organization has remained focused on child development and advocacy abroad, and today it aids more than one million children in 26 countries.
Contact: 800.336.7676, compassion.com
07: CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES
CBPP showed 18 percent growth in program spending last year.
The nonpartisan research institute advances policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility. Conducting research on proposed budget and tax policies, the Center helps promote the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal tax break for low-income working families that lifts more children out of poverty than any other government program while encouraging and rewarding work. The Center also works with 7,000 organizations nationwide to help eligible families file the tax returns necessary to receive the credits.
08: CITIZENS FOR ANIMAL PROTECTION
This group’s primary revenue—individual donations—increased by more than 15 percent last year.
Working to care for and find homes for neglected and abandoned pets, CAP has one of the highest adoption rates in Texas, about 47 percent. (That number is three times the national average adoption rate.) In January 2011 CAP opened its own 21,000-square-foot shelter.
09: FOOD FOR THE POOR
Almost 97 percent of its funds go directly to programs.
The Florida-based organization focuses on improving the health and economic, social and spiritual conditions of poor people in Latin America and the Caribbean. Beyond donating food, Food for the Poor offers micro-enterprise opportunities and education, drills wells for clean drinking water, provides medical care and builds homes for families without shelter. It has built more than 2,400 permanent two-room homes for victims of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Contact: 954.427.2222, foodforthepoor.org
10: NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
Gifts of $1 million or more have increased 402 percent in the last five years.
The private university is a leader in interdisciplinary research and global engagement. For example: The university works with the Food and Drug Administration on regulatory standards for the approval of biopharmaceuticals to ensure rigorous safety testing for new medicines.
This article originally appeared in the December/January 2012 issue of Worth.