: Helping donors give with confidence by evaluating whether charities meet 20 rigorous accountability standards and strengthening trust in the charitable sector.Our work
: producing in-depth charity evaluation reports based on comprehensive Standards for Charity Accountability
, promoting a seal that signals that a charity meets those standards, speaking out on accountability at meetings of charities and others in the sector, and advising donors on responding wisely to charity appeals.
Our key activities in 2009:Help for donors
– through bbb.org/charity. In 2009, over 1,200 reports about national charities were available on the Alliance Web site. Each report concludes that a charity
- meets all 20 of the Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability
- does not meet one or more Alliance Standards, and why
- has not responded to the Alliance’s request for information or has declined to be evaluated against the Alliance standards.
Available reports include information about each group’s mission, programs, finances and leadership. The Alliance Web site also offers tips for giving, in both text and video, as well as insights into many aspects of charity operations.
Help for donors – through the BBB charity seal. The Alliance’s national charity seal program grew to 279 in 2009, as over 41 additional national charities elected to participate. A participating charity can display the seal on its Web site and in its appeals, providing donors with a quick and easy way to see that it meets the Alliance standards.
Since its beginning the seal has appeared in well over a billion charity direct mail appeals. The seal received broad public attention in 2009 when seal holder organizations were listed in full-page ads in two issues of USA Today’s “Sharing in the USA” section under the heading “Start With Trust®
Help for donors – through the Wise Giving Guide
. The Alliance’s publication, in magazine format, summarizes the Alliance’s evaluations and includes articles on the why’s and how’s of charity practices that affect donors. The first Guide in 2009 focused on donor privacy, and how to protect it. The second examined the use and misuse of gifts-in-kind, and others featured articles, with tips for givers, on charitable bequests and volunteering.
Help for donors – through local Better Business Bureaus that evaluate local charities. To further the availability of information about charities available to charitable donors in their communities, the Alliance, as needed, lends its experience to train new charity analysts and assist local staff who seek counsel in applying the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability or completing charity reports.
In addition to its core work in 2009, the Alliance
- Undertook a project, supported by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to develop a format that all charities could use to report to the public on their effectiveness in meeting their missions. (The project relates to Alliance standards 6 and 7.) [add link] In keeping with its commitment to soliciting input from the charitable community, the Alliance convened a meeting of charity leaders early in 2009 to gather input on how this project should proceed.
With that group’s backing, the Alliance began work on the project. Toward mid-year, and with the support of the Hewlett Foundation, the Alliance merged its efforts with those of Independent Sector, a coalition of charities, foundations and corporate giving programs involved in a similar project. By the end of 2009 the two organizations had drafted a framework of questions, titled Charting Impact, that charities could answer in describing their impact, and a number of charities and other non-profit organizations had begun testing the framework. GuideStar USA, an organization that provides online access to the IRS Form 990 and other charity information, became the third party in the project; it will provide the online platform for the charities’ impact reports. Further testing and refinement of the Charting Impact framework continued in 2010.
- Announced that because of the recession’s impact on contributions to charity, the Alliance would provide a 10% leeway in applying the program and fund raising financial ratios of Standards 8 and 9. [add link]. For example, a charity that reported fund raising costs in excess of 35% of related contributions might still meet standard 9. But the 10% leeway would not be automatic: after a review of individual circumstances, the Alliance would decide whether it was warranted.
- Began reviewing a number of military-related charities, at the request of the Department of Defense, before they could be listed on America Supports You, the DOD Web site at the time. For inclusion on the site, charities had to be vetted by two or more of several charity review organizations.
In the media: As a leading charity monitoring organization, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance was quoted or featured in a wide variety of print and broadcast media. BBB Wise Giving Alliance – Roster of Board of Directors
2009 IRS Form 9902009 audited financial statements