CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and Charity Navigator

Link to CureSearch on the Charity Navigator website


After decades of earning very high marks with Charity Navigator, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer now shows as a neutral ‘unrated.’ Charity Navigator’s evaluation methodology requires seven years of IRS tax returns to provide a rating. And, while CureSearch has been operating for more than 25 years, the organization made recent and significant changes to how we conduct business in order to aggressively drive our mission of ending children’s cancer. As a result, Charity Navigator does not have sufficient financial data from our new model to provide an accurate rating.

What does the Charity Navigator website show regarding the CureSearch rating?

“We previously evaluated this organization but they have changed their operational model. Because our methodology compares current financials to previous financials, we cannot appropriately rate them [CureSearch] at this time, since the comparative financial information has changed significantly based on their new funding model. Once we have enough years of financial data under the new model, we plan to once again post an evaluation.” – Charity Navigator

When did the Charity Navigator rating change go into effect?

March 2015

What is CureSearch’s reaction to the rating change?

We understand that Watchdog ratings can be an important source of information to donors. To that end, it is disheartening that Charity Navigator does not have the ability to rate CureSearch based on the 2012 and 2013 financial data submitted under our new operating model. The “unrated” option is CureSearch’s only viable alternative until we are able to provide the necessary years of relevant financial data. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Charity Navigator to inform website visitors as to why we are currently ‘unrated.’

What is the new CureSearch model referenced on the Charity Navigator site?

In October 2012, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer completed its year-long journey to end its role as federal grantee, fiscal and administrative agent, and exclusive fundraising organization for the Children’s Oncology Group. This was a dramatic shift for CureSearch and meant that revenue reduced significantly, as we would no longer receive nearly $50 million in annual federal grants nor have program expenditures commensurate with that funding level. The CureSearch funding model now relies solely on private gifts from individuals, businesses, and foundations. We no longer receive any government funding.

CureSearch seized this opportunity to re-envision our role in finding a cure for children’s cancer. No longer constrained by a government funded research agenda, we embraced the opportunity to create a new scientific vision and new operating structure. CureSearch is committed to ending children’s cancer. Now we choose to fulfill that mission by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame.

When will Charity Navigator rate CureSearch?

As soon as we have the required years of financial data under our new operating model, we will apply to Charity Navigator for review. Ultimately, the decision and timeline rests with Charity Navigator. We look forward to quickly returning to our Charity Navigator score of 100% for transparency and accountability, reflecting our commitment to rigorous measuring and reporting on the impact of our work.

How do other watchdog organizations rate CureSearch?

GuideStar: CureSearch is a Platinum participant in the GuideStar Exchange program. Participation allows us to update key information directly to GuideStar so it is available to its millions of users on a regular basis. It provides richer and broader information about our programs, impact, finances, people and more. CureSearch has provided evidence of impact, financial data, IRS Forms 990 and our mission objectives.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance: BBB Wise Giving Alliance has twenty standards by which they measure a charity’s accountability. Those standards include having an effectiveness policy and report, an audit and annual report, truthful materials, and a donor privacy policy. Currently, CureSearch meets 18 of the 20 standards and is working diligently to satisfy all the requirements.

What is the current program to management expense ratio?

In 2016, of every dollar donated, 64% went toward children’s cancer research and education projects and 24% for fundraising to secure the funding to do it. Only 12% of every dollar went toward operating the organization.

Where are CureSearch financial reports published?

The CureSearch website has the most up-to-date financial reports.

Important notes to consider regarding CureSearch

To find cures for children’s cancers we need top researchers who focus on finding cures that not only eliminate pediatric cancers, but also improve the quality of life for these young cancer patients so they may live longer and healthier lives. All CureSearch supported research is required to report measureable results, milestones and achievements regularly. We evaluate our research rigorously with a focus on the ultimate goal: more cures for more children across more cancer types.

We take seriously the faith and confidence that every donation implies. We honor the trust placed in us by scientifically selecting the best research projects and keeping management expenses low. More importantly, we believe that the single best way to evaluate ourselves is not by overhead ratios, but by the impact we are making for children. Be sure to read our Impact Reports and financial reports.

At CureSearch, we are committed to making the most impact with every dollar donated so we can invest in the best and most promising children’s cancer research.

For more information about CureSearch and the charity watchdog ratings, please contact us at (800) 458-6223 or

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