Charity Navigator Ratings Evaluate Your Agency

Charity Navigator ratings serve nonprofits as well as their donors. They show your organization the areas it’s doing well and the areas that need improvement. They also show potential donors which nonprofits are strong in areas that are important to them, as well as where their weaknesses lie, so they can make informed donations.

Board Management Platforms Help the Cause

From better collaboration and engagement to secure document storage and retention, board management platforms provide nonprofits with a bevy of benefits that not only will help their Charity Navigator scores via more efficient operations, but help their organizations as a whole improve. 

Board Recruitment, Succession Plans Benefit

Board management platforms don’t just help your nonprofit improve its Charity Navigator score and its internal operation. When it’s time to find a new more board member — or devise a succession plan for an outgoing member — board portals can help via annual assessments, roles and terms management, and skills tracking.

Webinar Recap: Charity Navigator and OnBoard explore how board management software can help nonprofits address, navigate factors that impact their Charity Navigator score.

Design Lines

Charity Navigator’s rating system is a powerful tool for nonprofits and donors alike. For nonprofits, Charity Navigator’s rating system can serve as a roadmap to achieve and maintain overall excellence. In addition, adhering to their methodology promotes organizational health and signals to potential donors that a nonprofit uses their donations effectively and is making a real impact on those it serves. This enables nonprofits to earn donors’ trust – and increase donations. 

Much of the Charity Navigator rating criteria is related to governance processes. As such, board management software can be a particularly effective tool for living up to the standards Charity Navigator sets. In fact, there are key ways board management software can help nonprofits engage with their Charity Navigator rating.

Recently, Laura Andes, chief program officer at Charity Navigator; Nicole Crites, senior board liaison and assistant corporate secretary at Mercy Corps, and Jeremy Ladyga, nonprofit board consultant at OnBoard, explored how board management software enables nonprofit organizations to address and navigate the organizational processes that contribute to their Charity Navigator score.

Attendees learned: 

  • How governance and the standards set by Charity Navigator’s methodology intersect
  • How board management software can help improve governance that could have a positive impact on your Charity Navigator score
  • Best practices for leveraging a board management platform when thinking about your Charity Navigator score

Read on for some of the top takeaways from this session. 

Why Charity Navigator Ratings are Important

Charity Navigator scores can shed light on where an organization is shining – and where there’s opportunity for improvement. In addition, donors turn to these scores to determine whether to support a specific charity.

“Not only does it serve as a guide to our organizational health, but it’s one of the first things donors see on our website,” Crites said.

Charity Navigator ratings also matter to boards. “Our board directors are very engaged. They donate their time and they’re really passionate about our mission,” Crites added. “They’re really interested in our Charity Navigator score. It’s brought up a lot during our board and committee meetings.” 

Board Management Software Boosts Board Collaboration and Engagement

Active, engaged directors accomplish more for the boards they serve. The right board management platform can help increase collaboration and engagement by encouraging and facilitating dialogue across a range of important governance and strategic matters. That positions them for better collaboration during and in between meetings. 

“[With OnBoard], directors are able to access everything in one place. Not only is that good governance, but it also sets up our board directors for success,” Crites said. “We find we have a much more engaged board compared to years we didn’t use the platform.” 

OnBoard provides directors with a single source of truth for finding everything board-related. According to Ladyga, many boards use multiple disparate solutions. “That adds a lot of complexity,” he said. “Having a single source of truth makes it easy for them to easily find what we need them to focus on.”

Board Management Software Provides Secure Document Storage and Retention

Boards must store and retain documents properly. This is important not only for compliance, but also to ensure they can easily pull up the documents relevant to their Charity Navigator score. 

The right board management platform allows boards to review and annotate policies and historical documents related to their Charity Navigator score. In addition, such a platform can streamline auditor access to key documents during audit time.

“One thing that we love about OnBoard is that it maintains a comprehensive digital record of board meetings and decisions that have been made,” said Crites. “This is key to responsible governance.”

A Board Management Platform Can Enhance Recruitment and Succession Planning Efforts

On any board, it’s important to ensure the right people are in the right seats. As such, recruitment and succession planning must be top priorities.

“The board is so key in governance,” said Andes.

A board management platform can engage board members with simple annual assessments that can shape professional development efforts to strengthen skill sets. In addition, a board portal can simplify the management of roles and terms. That way, nominating committees have immediate insights into upcoming term limit deadlines and needed nominations.

“We’ve really honed our recruitment process a lot, thanks, in part to OnBoard. We often have to think many years ahead. But there are also circumstances where a director needs to step down,” Crites said. “We really leverage OnBoard to look where things stand and what the gaps are. It’s been a tremendous success for us.”

Finally, a board portal can help you evaluate director skills and experience to identify any gaps in collective ability to attend to key Charity Navigator metrics. These insights enable you to develop a well-rounded board that achieves objectives more effectively.

“OnBoard helps you work smarter, not harder,” said Ladyga. “It helps you identify gaps so you can be more proactive when it’s time to backfill a role.” 

A Board Management Platform Can Help Increase Board Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is a top focus for boards of all sizes and industries – including nonprofits. In addition, diversity and inclusion efforts have an impact on Charity Navigator scores.

“Charity Navigator’s view is that many organizations are on a journey,” Andes said. “For some organizations, this may be a new area of focus. We do have different practices to determine whether organizations align with who they serve.” 

A board portal like OnBoard enables boards to leverage data to identify gaps. That data can inform board governance and recruitment committee efforts. 

“There was a time when our board wasn’t reflective of the areas we served,” Crites said. “We used our diversity and skills questionnaire in OnBoard and were able to have an honest conversation about where we were at and where we needed to be. Now we can proudly say our board really represents the communities we serve. We also bring a lot of diversity of thought. I think that’s really crucial to having a really strong board of directors.”


A Board Management Platform Streamlines Decision-Making

Boards are responsible for making decisions that either move the organization forward or set it back. It’s imperative to make good decisions.

A board portal like OnBoard enables boards to collaborate and build meeting agendas with speed, versatility, and efficiency – allowing for more high-value meeting planning. In addition, boards can organize, track, review, comment, and approve decisions between meetings anywhere on any device. 

“OnBoard allows boards and staff to collaborate and make better decisions,” Ladyga said.

Crites agreed. 

“OnBoard has made my life a lot easier. It streamlines our team’s communication and effectiveness,” she said. “We have board and committee meetings every quarter. It’s really helped our board meetings be more efficient so important decisions can be made quickly and in a productive way.”


The Right Board Management Platform Can Have a Positive Impact on Your Charity Navigator Score

Charity Navigator ratings are important to donors and nonprofits alike. Leveraging a board management platform can help nonprofits improve effectiveness – and their Charity Navigator scores. 

“Utilizing a board management platform is a good way to improve governance and achieve high performance and transparency,” Crites said. “As a result, you’re more likely to get a higher score from Charity Navigator. Then, you’ll attract new donors. Charity Navigator and OnBoard are two tools that go hand-in-hand.”

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