What nonprofits need to know

The centerpiece of our four-beacon Encompass system is our Impact and Results Beacon. This beacon scores nonprofits’ expected impact on beneficiaries compared to the costs of producing that impact. In other words, we provide information about what a nonprofit achieves for each donated dollar it spends. An organization’s Impact & Results score comprises 50% of the total Encompass score where it is present. We weigh this beacon more heavily than the other three because, in a world of scarce resources, we think it’s essential to highlight impactful giving opportunities where donations do exceptional good.

About the Impact & Results Beacon:

  • Our Impact & Results ratings aim to capture the total impact of nonprofit programs per program dollar spent. However, nonprofits work in a number of disparate cause areas and measure their success in different ways. Accordingly, our process for estimating attributable impact and costs is tailored to each program category we evaluate. You can view our detailed methodologies by program area here.  
  • When we label a nonprofit’s program “high-impact” and give it a high rating, we mean it is high-impact given its mission. For example, we estimate the impact of a food pantry compared to other programs which share the food pantry’s mission of reducing hunger. We do not compare the food pantry to organizations with different missions, like art museums.

How to determine if your nonprofit is eligible for an Impact & Results rating:

  • Visit Charity Navigator’s Nonprofit Portal. In the portal, you’ll see a list of program categories (see image below for list) for which we’ve created an Impact & Results methodology.
  • Find and select a listed program category that matches a program your organization offers. Each program category describes the eligibility criteria your organization’s program must satisfy to be eligible for a rating under that program category’s methodology.
  • At least 15% of your organization’s annual program costs must go to a program that satisfies the eligibility criteria of a listed program category.
Impact & Results Beacon Programs

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What to do if your nonprofit is eligible for an Impact & Results rating: 

  • If your organization operates a program on our list, proceed to the form to enter your programmatic costs and results.
  • To create a rating, we ask nonprofits to submit data about costs (specific to the program being assessed) and outcomes achieved for that cost. 
  • The form allows you to save data and re-enter before hitting the submit button. We find that many nonprofit representatives need to consult coworkers or financial records to provide accurate data.  
  • Once submitted, your data enters the Impact & Results quality assurance process. One of our analysts may reach out to you by email or telephone to verify your data or troubleshoot your form.  

What to do if your nonprofit is NOT eligible for an Impact & Results rating: 

  • Our current assessment methodology isn’t appropriate for all nonprofits. We are working hard to continue growing the number of nonprofits eligible for an impact rating.
  • We try to reach out to eligible nonprofits when a methodology for one of their program types becomes available. However, we encourage checking our nonprofit portal every few months as new programs are constantly being added.
  • In the Nonprofit Portal, you can request that our analysts create a methodology for a program that your nonprofit offers. While we can’t fill all requests, we try to prioritize programs in high demand. 
  • If your nonprofit is not eligible for an Impact & Results rating, this will not hurt your overall Encompass score. Your organization will just be “unrated” in Impact & Results. Other beacons will be weighted more heavily to compensate. 


Read more about the unification of our ratings in this series.

Written by Lea Prince, VP of Impact & Results, and Zachary Brown, Impact Analyst at Charity Navigator.