News and analysis
August 05, 2015

Microsoft Official Chosen to Head Charity Navigator

The appointment of Michael Thatcher as its new chief reflects Charity Navigator's desire to focus more strongly on how nonprofits measure results.
Charity Navigator has tapped a Microsoft veteran, Michael Thatcher, to serve as its new chief executive.

Mr. Thatcher replaces Ken Berger, who left the charity rating group in April. At the time, Mr. Berger said Charity Navigator wanted someone with a stronger technology background as it attempts to greatly increase the number of nonprofits it evaluates based on financial efficiency and other measures. The group is increasingly seeking ways to measure how much groups do to evaluate their programs, so its rankings go beyond simple measures of how many dollars are spent on overhead and other purposes.

Mr. Thatcher spent 15 years at Microsoft, most recently serving as the tech giant’s public-sector technology officer in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. He is also a board member of Keystone Accountability, a group that is developing Feedback Commons as a way for charities to share resources. The project is supported by money from the Fund for Shared Insight.

"The board of directors was impressed with Michael’s technical experience, outstanding leadership skills, collaborative approach to problem solving, and enthusiasm for our mission," John Dugan, Charity Navigator’s chairman, said in a statement.

In recent years, the watchdog group’s site has attracted millions of viewers who want to make sure they are giving to nonprofits that will use donations wisely. But the evaluator has been criticized by some nonprofit leaders who believe the group penalizes nonprofits for what it views as excessive spending on administrative and fundraising expenses. Such overhead expenses are necessary at times as a charity organization grows and changes, the critics say.

In a statement, Mr. Thatcher alluded to the group’s new direction in going beyond reporting the financial picture and board composition of nonprofits to include greater attention to the way charities measure results.

"Charity Navigator is at a critical time in its development," he said.

Mr. Thatcher will join the nonprofit on August 17.

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