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Charity Navigator

A ratings explanation

Sawmill old growth, protected by The Cascades Conservation Partnership. Photo by Dave AtchesonA ratings explanation from Executive Director Mitch Friedman:

We are grateful for the generous support of individuals who contribute over 70% of our revenue. Our reputation for efficiency and effectiveness is the foundation for that support, and I want to respond to our Charity Navigator rating to defend that record.

Our rating has suffered from a problem in Charity Navigator's model for "capacity rating." Their model rightly red flags an organization that shows a fall-down in revenue and/or assets. But sometimes there's a good reason for that reduction.

From 2000-2005, we administered The Cascades Conservation Partnership. This coalition raised over $18 million in private funds, which in turn leveraged over $60 million in government funds, for acquisition of 45,000 acres of forest habitat in the Cascades.

The Charity Navigator capacity rating model unjustly penalized us by: 1) interpreting the termination of the capital campaign as a drop in revenue capacity; and 2) interpreting the lands we purchased and donated to the US Forest Service for long-term stewardship as a meaningful drop in assets. Conservation Northwest donated the last of the bigger parcels–2,000 acres adjacent to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area–in 2009.

Charity Navigator told us there's no correction they can do, other than allow us to post this explanation. While the campaign was a huge success for the Cascades' ecosystem, it will continue to show up as a black mark on the Charity Navigator site tor several years past this great success!

Conservation Northwest is unique in the range of tactics we employ to find real solutions to large-scale ecological challenges. That we do so much–from lawsuits and legislative work to collaborative forestry to raising megabucks to buy threatened land–is our greatest strength. We're bold, innovative, and strategic. There are very few groups that produce comparable results for the money.

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Executive Director Mitch Friedman at 800-878-9950 x 113 or mitch (a) conservationnw.org. Thank you.
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