Colorado Springs charities get both high and low marks in ranking

June 4, 2014 Updated: June 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm
photo - David Somers, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.
David Somers, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. 

A study of nonprofits released Tuesday gave Colorado Springs strong marks for fundraising efficiency and privacy policies, though the city ranked poorly for higher-than-average administrative expenses.

Colorado Springs ranked 28th out of the nation's 30 largest metropolitan markets in the latest study by Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates the financial health and transparency of thousands of organizations across the nation.

The report examined each area's largest nonprofits and took into account two dozen factors, including revenue, transparency, chief executive pay and program expenses. For Colorado Springs, that analysis included the city's 50 largest nonprofits - a fraction of the city's overall total.

St. Louis took the top spot this year, followed by Houston and Cleveland. Phoenix was 30th, just below Atlanta.

Denver - the only other Colorado city on the list - tied for 17th with Indianapolis.

The inclusion of Colorado Springs on the list came as welcome news to David Somers, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

"I think that (inclusion) alone really speaks to how robust our sector is here," Somers said.

The city tied for fourth of the 30 markets for fundraising efficiency. On the flip side, it scored last on placing information about key staff members and board members online - signaling a need for more attention and training, Somers said.

Somers tied the city's last-place ranking for administrative expenses among the 30 markets to the presence of some nonprofits' international headquarters, possibly skewing the city's statistics, he said.

He also stressed that administrative expenses are more important for some organizations than others.

"There is a huge question out there about whether administrative expenses are a good metric to use to evaluate a nonprofit," Somers said.

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