COA Youth & Family Centers ranks No. 1 among state’s charities on financial health, transparency

18 Milwaukee area nonprofits get four stars from Charity Navigator

Tom Schneider, executive director of COA Youth & Family Centers.

COA Youth & Family Centers is the highest-rated charity in Wisconsin when it comes to financial health and transparency, based on New Jersey-based watchdog group Charity Navigator’s 2019 rankings.

Tom Schneider, executive director of COA Youth & Family Centers.

COA, a Milwaukee-based organization focused on early child and youth development and community development, received a score of 98.69 out of 100 by Charity Navigator, which independently assesses and rates public charities throughout the U.S.

Nationally, COA was rated sixth-highest among children’s and family service nonprofits.

“Wisconsin is fortunate to have many outstanding nonprofit organizations and it’s a great honor for COA to receive this recognition,” said Tom Schneider, executive director of COA. “As someone who also donates to several nonprofit agencies, I find it helpful to know how much of my gift is actually going to support the people they are serving, and they are transparent with their finances and have low administrative and fundraising costs.”

Charity Navigator assigned four-star rankings to 44 charities in Wisconsin for receiving a score of 90 or higher. Eighteen of those are based in the Milwaukee area.

JoAnne Anton, director of giving for Herb Kohl Philanthropies, commended COA on its ranking.

“When it comes to our charitable giving, Herb Kohl Philanthropies looks for the best blend of impact, efficiency and transparency,” Anton said. “A rating from Charity Navigator provides meaningful information that adds confidence to the donor decision-making process. Financial efficiency and effectiveness do not come easily, which is why we really value the commitment to excellence that COA and so many highly-rated nonprofits throughout Wisconsin demonstrate.”

The four-star rated local charities by Charity Navigator include:

  • COA Youth & Family Centers (98.69)
  • Greater Milwaukee Foundation (97.13)
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin (97.05)
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America Wisconsin Chapter (95.84)
  • United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County (95.47)
  • Milwaukee Repertory Theater (94.9)
  • Milwaukee Jewish Federation (94.75)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (94.26)
  • Zoological Society of Milwaukee (93.83)
  • Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (93.17)
  • United Performing Arts Fund (92.92)
  • Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (92.74)
  • 9to5 National Association of Working Women (92.18)
  • Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin (91.65)
  • Milwaukee Art Museum (91.01)
  • Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (90.69)
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (90.64)
  • Elmbrook Humane Society (90.64)

Three-star charities include:

  • Milwaukee Ballet (89.9)
  • Discovery World (89.56)
  • Hunger Task Force (89.56)
  • Food Pantry of Waukesha County (89.4)
  • Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin (89.39)
  • Radio Milwaukee (89.33)
  • Humane Animal Welfare Society (89)
  • Wisconsin Humane Society (88.9)
  • GPS Education Partners (88.89)
  • John Michael Kohler Arts Center (88.26)
  • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation (87.65)
  • Kingdom Workers (87.82)
  • The Women’s Center (86.46)
  • Racine Art Museum (85.66)
  • United Way of Racine County (85.61)
  • Museum of Wisconsin Art (85.51)
  • Neighborhood House of Milwaukee (84.94)
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (84.79)
  • Heart of the Nation Catholic Mass (84.70)
  • Time of Grace Ministry (84.46)
  • United Way of Sheboygan County (84.46)
  • Living Hope International (84.44)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee (84.09)
  • Florentine Opera Company (83.93)
  • Sojourner Family Peace Center (83.73)
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin (82.56)
  • Lutheran Indian Ministries (82.36)
  • Ten Chimneys Foundation (82.29)
  • Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (82)
  • Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (81.78)
  • Public Allies (81.26)
  • Family Service Agency of Waukesha (81.15)
  • PAVE, which has since merged with Schools That Can Milwaukee (80.82)
  • Skylight Music Theatre (80.39)

Two-star charities include:

  • Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts (78.38)
  • The Endometriosis Association (73.2)

One-star charities:

  • Christian Life Resources (68.13)

Christian Life Resources, based in Richfield, was the only one-star charity in the Milwaukee area. The pro-life group has held a one-star rating from Charity Navigator for 10 consecutive years, but national director Rev. Robert Fleischmann has said it is largely due to the large amount of debt it has accrued, and is working to reduce, over the years. In 2011, its main donor withdrew funds due to its own financial problems, leaving Christian Life Resources in debt. The organization has taken steps in recent years to update the website according to Charity Navigator’s accountability and transparency requirements.

Charity Navigator, meanwhile, issued a “high concern advisory” for Milwaukee-based World Burns Inc., citing the revocation of its federal tax exemption status with the IRS in May 2018.

It also issued a “moderate concern advisory” for UNISON, the organization of Milwaukee’s Interfaith Older Adult Programs’ and SET Ministry’s merger that recently lost contracts with Milwaukee County following allegations that its former chief executive officer misused funds.

Get our email updates

Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.