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October 3, 2011 | last updated December 2, 2011 6:19 pm

Eight ME charities top nonprofit list

An organization that evaluates the financial health of more than 5,000 charities nationwide has named eight Maine charities among its top-ranked operations.

New Jersey-based Charity Navigator recently unveiled a more in-depth rating system that ranks charities based on ethical practices, accountability and transparency with donors, according to a press release. The Maine charities that received the highest, four-star rating are: Bowdoin College in Brunswick; Camp Sunshine in Casco; Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay; Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland; The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor; Pine Tree Society in Bath; Preble Street in Portland; and Sustainable Harvest International in Surry. A total of 1,266 charities received four stars.

The new metrics -- which include whether a charity uses an objective process to set a CEO's salary, whether it has an effective governance structure and whether it has a whistleblower policy -- complement Charity Navigator's 10-year-old rating system based on financial health. Charity Navigator's free-of-charge ratings help donors make informed decisions about the charities they support, according to its website.

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