The Give Guide: The Smart Money

These institutions have been vetted for giving lots of bang for your philanthropic buck.*

Every charity needs your cash. But only 15 Indianapolis-area nonprofits currently carry four-star distinctions from Charity Navigator (, a New Jersey–based rating service that uses the most recent tax-filing figures available to determine transparency, accountability, and financial health.

The Julian Center
CN score: 68.94 / 70
Mission: addressing domestic violence and aiding victims.


Central Indiana Community Foundation
CN score: 66.85 / 70
Mission: funding, supporting, and encouraging philanthropy.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
CN score: 66.46 / 70
Mission: relieving hunger.

United Way of Central Indiana
CN score: 65.75 / 70
Mission: improving lives by mobilizing individuals along with nonprofits, businesses, community organizations, and other groups.

Little Red Door Cancer Agency
CN score: 65.68 / 70
Mission: providing assistance to medically underserved cancer patients.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
CN score: 64.89 / 70
Mission: improving the urban environment and qua-
lity of life (at left).

YMCA of Greater Indianapolis
CN score: 64.63 / 70
Mission: building physical, mental, and emotional health through Christian principles.

Solid Rock International
CN score: 63.26 / 70
Mission: bringing assistance to the poor in the Dominican Republic through Christian missionary work. solidrock

Ronald McDonald House of Indiana
CN score: 63.15 / 70
Mission: supporting families of hospitalized seriously ill or injured children.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis
CN score: 62.88 / 70
Mission: creating homeownership opportunities through Christian ministry.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of  Indiana
CN score: 62.28 / 70
Mission: helping children succeed through adult mentorship (p. 87).

Project Lead the Way
CN score: 61.57 / 70
Mission: preparing students for the global economy by promoting STEM education.

Indianapolis Zoo
CN score: 61.44 / 70
Mission: promoting conservation by connecting animals, plants, and people.

Timmy Global Health
CN score: 61.28 / 70
Mission: bringing healthcare to underserved communities in South and Central America, Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Indiana State Museum Foundation
CN score: 60.84 / 70
Mission: supporting the museum and its aims of preserving, interpreting, and presenting to the public materials and exhibits that highlight the state’s art, science, and culture.

*To be rated, charities must meet certain criteria including size (at least $1 million in annual revenue), tax-exempt status (excludes many religious and lobbying organizations), and longevity (at least seven years of tax filings). Current ratings are based on either 2011 or 2012 tax filings.

See more from The Give Guide here.

This article appeared in the December 2013 issue.