Several websites provide resources and ratings to help donors determine a charity’s good (and not-so-good) deeds.

Like other media outlets, we often refer consumers to such sites operated by GuideStar, Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and GreatNonprofits.

But no one has pulled these resources together in one place – until now.

You might have seen my tweets about this last week. The Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting together have built Charity Checker, a new aggregation tool to help consumers more efficiently find information about charities. You can find it at

Charity Checker is a new and evolving tool. We expect to make refinements and improvements. With your feedback, we hope to make it as useful as possible. If you have ideas or suggestions, email us at

The site searches the nation’s top charity watchdog and review sites and shows their unfiltered ratings and reviews. These sites don’t rate every one of the 1.6 million nonprofits in the United States. But together, they cover thousands of the country’s largest and most popular causes. We’ll be adding and updating information regularly to add more charities and make sure we correct any glitches that are common whenever a new tool is launched.

There is no perfect rating system. Each has its advantages and shortcomings. And each charity rater considers different criteria. Some focus more on transparency and public disclosures. Others look more closely at financial accountability. Some rating systems rely on mandatory regulatory filings, while others ding charities for not filing information that is totally voluntary.

We’re not endorsing the ratings or the methods. We’re merely aggregating what is already in the public domain to make things easier for consumers. But we also see this as an opportunity to start a broader dialogue with the public about what features or measurements would provide even more useful consumer ratings for nonprofits.

The tool allows consumers to type in the name of more than 11,000 charities to find how these rating services and review sites rank some of the most popular nonprofits. You also can filter charities by category and location. Once you find the charity you’re looking for, clicking on one of the ratings takes you directly to the source. You also can write your own reviews of charities through GreatNonprofits.

We strongly encourage anyone using the tools to dig deeper before making any decisions on whether to support a cause. Watchdog ratings and reviews are just one way to measure the value of a nonprofit. They are a starting point. You might want to review available nonprofit tax forms and explore a charity’s own website for additional information about its programs and services. You’ll have to decide what measures are important to you. But hopefully, the research has just gotten a little bit easier.

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Mark Katches is a past editorial director for The Center for Investigative Reporting. He is currently editor of the Oregonian and vice president of content for the Oregonian Media Group. Previously, he built and ran investigative teams at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Orange County Register. Mark was the primary editor of Pulitzer Prize-winning projects in both 2008 and 2010 and edited or managed five other stories that were Pulitzer finalists. Projects he edited or directed also have won the George Polk Award, the IRE award and the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award as well as the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and the National Headliner Award. Multiplatform projects produced by CIR staff under Mark's guidance won a national News & Documentary Emmy, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award. He has overseen projects or websites that have won four Online Journalism Awards in the last decade, in addition to logging more than a dozen OJA finalists. In 2001, he was part of a reporting team that won the Gerald Loeb and IRE awards for a series of stories detailing the rising profits from the human tissue trade. He completed a Punch Sulzberger Fellowship at Columbia University in 2013 and has taught reporting classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University. Mark served on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors for four years and oversaw the IRE mentorship program for six years.