United Way of Central Iowa is proud to have earned a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for a remarkable 16 consecutive years. It’s an incredible accomplishment for us; here’s what 4-stars means for you, our donors, and collaborators.

Earlier this year Charity Navigator, the world's largest and most trusted nonprofit evaluator, recognized United Way of Central Iowa with its top 4-Star rating.

Our organization is incredibly proud to have earned the 4-Star rating for 16 consecutive years. Those four stars are a symbol of trust, representing the measures we take to ensure we are accountable, transparent, and responsible stewards of donor dollars.

In our letter of recognition, Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator, said the coveted 4-star rating demonstrates strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. “This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way,” the letter read. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that United Way of Central Iowa exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in our area of work. Less than 1% of the charities evaluated have received at least 16 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that we outperform most other charities in America.

What is a Charity Navigator 4-Star Rating?

Since 2001, Charity Navigator has been empowering millions of donors by providing them with free access to data, tools, and resources to guide philanthropic decision-making and allowing them to give with confidence.

The organization objectively reviews and rates nonprofits on a 100-point scale based on:

  • IRS Tax Status
  • Revenue
  • Length of Operations
  • Location
  • Public Support
  • Fundraising Expenses 
  • Administrative Expenses

A four-star rating is given to organizations who score a 90 or above in Charity Navigator’s review and is considered “Exceptional.” For organizations like United Way of Central Iowa, it means we “exceed industry standards and outperform most charities in [our] cause.”

Why it’s important for our donors

This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets United Way of Central Iowa apart. Whether you are a first-time donor or a Tocqueville Society legacy member, we want you to know your dollar makes a life-changing difference.

“Trust is critical in any relationship,” said Melanie Campbell, Chief Donor Engagement Officer of United Way of Central Iowa. “It’s especially important for us as an organization and for our community to have our donors, volunteers, and corporate partners trust us and know we are being held accountable as we manage their investments to not only meet their requests, but also most effectively tackle our region’s toughest challenges.”

We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the incredible results we shared in our Community Impact Report, or look positively toward our future as we rebuild central Iowa together, without you.

“Athene and our employees are proud to support the United Way of Central Iowa and the impactful work they do in our communities,” said Grant Kvalheim, CEO and President of Athene and United Way’s 2021 Campaign Chair. “The Charity Navigator 4-Star rating is just one of the reasons why I encourage others to join me in supporting United Way of Central Iowa every year. As a financial professional, I want to know that when I make an investment, my money is going where it’s meant to go. I wouldn’t ask anyone to make a financial commitment to an organization I didn’t trust.”

Why it’s important for our partners

As we move beyond the Community Goals for 2020 and set our sights on new goals under UNITED to THRIVE, we’ll be focusing on what we’re calling the 5 Elements of a Thriving Community: Essential Needs, Early Childhood Success, Education Success, Economic Opportunity, and Health & Well-being.

Each element, just as each focus area of education, income, and health did before, will have its own investment cabinet comprised of local experts in the area: people who volunteer and who are passionate about making the right choices for our community.

“With our pointed focus on equity and having so much overlap in our 5 Elements of a Thriving Community, our investment process is different than it has been in the past,” said Reneé Miller, Chief Community Impact Officer of United Way of Central Iowa. “Having a consistent top rating from such a reliable resource allows our funded partners to also have confidence in our decision making as we move through this transition together and aim to make impactful change.”

Throughout the past 16 years, United Way of Central Iowa earned this exceptional rating through collaboration, mobilizing the community to strategically address our toughest challenges, and evaluating the data-driven results to ensure progress. Our decision making is driven by what works for our community and our donors. We are excited Charity Navigator recognizes our work – not because we strive for 4-Stars – but because we strive to always be accurate and transparent. It’s the right thing to do.

The ranking only reiterates that when you GIVE UNITED, you’re giving every central Iowan the opportunity to thrive.

Topics: announcement

Elisabeth Buck

Written by Elisabeth Buck

Elisabeth Buck is the former President of United Way of Central Iowa.